3 Signs It's Time to Fire the Boss

Firing an executive is sure to create anxiety but sometimes you have no alternative except to push past your fears and make a change.
3 Signs It's Time to Fire the Boss
Image credit: Paul Morigi | Stringer | Getty Images
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Fox News Channel recently found itself making headlines when Andrea Tantaros, host of “The Five” and “Outnumbered,” filed a lawsuit alleging that her boss, Fox News’ then-Chairman Roger Ailes, had sexually harassed her. Other female hosts at the cable network, including Gretchen Carlson, quickly broke their silence and filed similar lawsuits.

The network conducted an internal investigation of Ailes’ management over the past 20 years, revealing numerous on-the-record instances of professional misconduct. The controversy ultimately led Ailes and Fox News to part ways.

Related: 9 CEOs Who Were Fired or Decided to Step Down

As a budding startup, you’ve likely not had to deal with such a public dismissal of an executive. But while your decision to demote or terminate high-ranking management might not be as highly visible, it is nonetheless imperative to the survival of long-term company goals and culture.

Hesitations to moving on.

Letting a higher-up employee go is never an easy decision, particularly when a replacement is not immediately available to backfill the position. That said, having someone under-perform and affect your company’s bottom line can be far worse.

Gallup research suggests managers who are not effective at their jobs improve only slightly when given remedial training. Essentially, providing ongoing training to a manager who struggles with leadership will only prolong performance issues and strain relationships with other team members.

The anxiety associated with firing someone is natural. Even shrewd businessmen such as Warren Buffett struggle when it comes time to make a management change. “It’s pure agony, and I usually postpone it and suck my thumb and do all kinds of other things before I finally carry it out,” Buffett has said.

So what stops us from pulling the trigger when enough is enough? Much of that hesitation stems from fear. You may dread the immediate effect it will have on the company and on long-term relationships with customers and employees, but you may also anticipate the potential of being sued by the individual you’re firing. Nonetheless, strong leaders have an obligation to push past those fears and make a change for the overall health of the organization.

Signs it’s time to move on.

While a good manager can spark increases in labor force and invested capital, a bad manager has the opposite effect. If you have a manager who does not support you or team members, it’s likely there will be higher turnover in your organization. Allowing this type of management to continue can seriously affect potential hires and retention.

If your CEO or company manager is demonstrating these three behaviors, it might be time to escalate the discussion to your board of directors or appropriate upper management:

1. Dishonesty.

In the workplace, sincerity is worth its weight in gold, yet according to a LeadershipIQ.com study, 22 percent of executives are let go because they’re all wax and no wick.

A good manager or executive can effectively communicate change, rally the troops during crunch time and guide employees through tough situations. A poor manager will pay your employees plenty of lip service, but he won’t have any actions to back up his big talk. And faced with a mistake, he’ll spend more time trying to point fingers than solve the problem.

Related: Playing the Blame Game Is the Last Thing You Want to Do When Addressing a Problem

2. Harmful misconduct.

Offensive or intimidating behavior in the workplace is neither acceptable nor excusable, but unfortunately, it is not terribly uncommon. Roughly one in three women will experience sexual harassment at work, and 56 percent of workplace bullies hold higher-ranking positions than their victims.

Workplace bullying and harassment can open your company up to expensive lawsuits, but more than that, you have an ethical duty to ensure your employees feel safe at work. As a leader, it’s your job to cultivate a productive, inclusive environment, and if one of your managers or executives is posing a threat to someone, you need to take action to not only stop it, but also to prevent it from happening again.

Related: 5 Ways to Kill Your Startup’s ‘Office Politics’ Before They Start

3. Poor communication.

Effective managers work hard to encourage reciprocity because they know it pays off. One survey found employees who felt their managers listened to them were reportedly five times more likely to feel excited about their jobs and a staggering 21 times more likely to stay loyal to their current companies.

Ineffective managers tend to bark orders and tune out employee suggestions -- which can demotivate even your best talent and cause those workers to look elsewhere for employment opportunities.

Make no mistake. A bad manager or executive can create a toxic work environment, affecting your company’s success in the long run. Take action now. Don’t let the continuation of awful management have disastrous consequences on your employees, customers and reputation.