Calling Employees Dogs

\_/  I enjoy Bruce Kasanoff’s articles and I try to read them whenever I see a new one. His latest, titled “Don’t Ever Shoot a Dog!”, is a really good criticism of Barbara Corcoran’s reasoning behind her way of firing people. The rationale behind Corcoran’s letting go of the bottom 25% of the sales force every year reminded me of how the blocks disappeared in a blink of an eye in Tetris. The only problem is this isn’t Tetris and these are not blocks… These are real people with real lives. Seriously, what is her article all about? Well, what I could get from it was people in her company not helping the business make enough money are nothing but worthless. Not only are they wothless but they are also not worth spending time on while firing them.

I’d like to “cut to the chase” here: She may have been fired four times before throughout her career, but clearly she’s learned nothing from any of those experiences. And “I’m sorry, the job is not working out.” quote of hers gives the problem away: The JOB (not the people) is not working. In this case what’s left to do is either improve the business (hiring process, business model, setting more realistic goals etc.) or simply cut to the chase with the executives.

You can find Corcoran’s and Kasanoff’s articles below.


Shoot the Dogs Early

3d6301fMy partner Esther used to say that whenever someone I’d just fired left my office they looked like I’d given them a promotion. I had the happiest, most productive sales force in town because I tried to hire the best people and always showed my appreciation, but I learned that to keep my company healthy I also had to fire the losers fast. Over the years I developed some ways to make the dreaded process of firing someone a little bit less painful. Here’s my method.

To start off, I established a firm policy at the Corcoran Group to clean out the bottom 25 percent of our commissioned sales force each year. Firing people is the worst part of running any business, and the people best at hiring are never good at firing and tend to put it off too long. But I knew if the bottom quarter of the sales force wasn’t earning its keep, I wouldn’t be able to support the top salespeople who were making all the money. Moving our least productive people out and on their way to new careers was as important a part of my job as recruiting new talent, and I knew the faster I did it the better it was for everyone.

Extending a last minute invitation – “Would you have five minutes for me on Friday?” – always works best and is never seen as the cloak and dagger approach it is. When I break the news to the unsuspecting salesperson, I try to have another manager with me for moral support and find that their presence makes me more accountable so I won’t chicken out!

I open the meeting by asking permission to cut to the chase – “Do you mind if I’m honest with you?” People always say yes and I follow that by saying flat out, “I’m sorry, the job is not working out.” I’ve been fired from four jobs myself and I can tell you it’s bad enough being let go, but even worse sitting there through five minutes of small talk wondering why you’re in the boss’s office in the first place. I say what I need to say and keep it short.

I think giving complete and truthful information allows the individual to leave with his self-esteem intact, so I make that my #1 goal. It’s cruel to leave a person wondering what he’s done wrong or where he’s fallen short, so I take the time to spell it out. First I genuinely commend the person for what he does well by pointing out his best traits. That makes it easier for him to accept my critique of why he doesn’t fit the job. I also think ahead of what type of position might capitalize on his natural abilities and offer to make the right introductions to whatever contacts I might have. I end the interview offering a solid letter of recommendation and a willingness to act as a reference, and genuinely wish him the best of luck.

Contrary to firing someone who’s trying their best, I just relish firing chronic complainers. I’ve learned that one complainer quickly recruits another to join their pity party as “Oh, poor me,” always needs an, “Oh, poor you!” Nothing rots a business faster than a cluster of negative people, so I get them out fast – usually the minute I spot them. My best line for firing a complainer is simply, “You’re not a good fit here, I’m sorry.” The moment I show one of these chronic complainers the door, I feel a collective sigh of relief in the office!

You can actually get good at firing if you give the process enough thought and attention. The ultimate proof is when you watch enough good people move forward from a job that doesn’t fit to find a position that truly suits their talents.

By Barbara Corcoran    Source: Linkedin

Don’t Ever Shoot a Dog!


Ever since Donald Trump first took obvious glee in shouting at another human being, “YOU’RE FIRED!”, I have been wondering what it is about real estate that attracts big egos and small hearts. I don’t make a practice of debating with other Influencers, but Barbara Corcoran’s article Shoot the Dogs Early illustrates what troubles me.

First, if 25% of the people you hire end up being “dogs” in your eyes, there’s either something wrong with your hiring practices or your management style, or both. (One hint: if you call people “dogs”, it might be #2.)

Second, the reason people never object when you call them into your office on short notice, have an observer present, and ask if you can cut to the chase… is because they are TERRIFIED. It’s not because you are being compassionate and considerate.

Barbara says, “Nothing rots a business faster than a cluster of negative people, so I get them out fast – usually the minute I spot them.” In other words, the second you disagree with the boss or anything she says, you’re fired.

The tip-off here is “the second.” I understand the difference between complaints and constructive criticism, and some might defend Barbara and say she only annihilates true complainers. But if you react “the second” you hear something that sounds like complaining, you will “shoot” some very smart people.

But here’s what most upsets me: great managers get ordinary people to do extraordinary things. The basic thrust of Barbara’s piece is that a huge 25% of the people her firm hires cannot do the job they were hired to do. Either take more time to hire, or take more time to bring out the best in people. To do otherwise ignores the fact that you are hiring real human beings with spouses and kids and basic needs like food and shelter. Any firm that tolerates a 25% termination rate has lost its heart, pure and simple.

The good news, of course, is that people can change. Barbara, I hold out hope that one day you will decide there is a better path to nurturing talent in others.

By Bruce Kasanoff    Source: Linkedin


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s