If you’ve ever watched an episode of The Apprentice, you have heard, and seen, Donald Trump utter those hope-ending, heart stopping words-You’re fired!

As most of you know, I coach leaders scattered around the country–many of whom, at one time or another, have uttered those words or been on the receiving end of those words.

Now, I have been around a while and know that at times it’s appropriate and necessary to send someone packing, whether that person is a volunteer or a paid employee.

Honestly though, I struggle with the hiring / firing habits and practices of many churches and organizations with which I am familiar. I am troubled by what I read about, have experienced personally and have helped coaching clients navigate.

Within the last several months I have had conversations with leaders who were prayerfully considering letting somebody go, but were sweating bullets over following through with it as they considered the ramifications and potential fall-out of such a decision. Let’s face it, churches split over these kinds of decisions when it involves a well liked, but seemingly incompetent, person.

Recently I tweeted the following…hire slowly and fire quickly.  I got a little push back on that, but still believe it’s sound wisdom. If we do our homework on the front end when hiring, chances are we won’t have to fire at all.  But sometimes you do it by the book on the hiring aspect, and still get blindsided by things you hadn’t anticipated, and then need to make the tough call of “firing” the person. When it’s clear they need to go, don’t procrastinate. One way to determine if it it’s time for them to move on is by asking yourself this question: If that person walked in today to apply for a position, and knowing everything I now know, would I hire them? If the answer is no, you know what you need to do.

The question is, will you do it, and do it in a way that honors the Lord and respects the dignity of the person? I don’t believe a person should be taken by surprise when they hear they are going to be let go. As a leader, if you are doing your job well, they should know it’s coming.

When it’s done, how it’s communicated to the person (and others), and doing your best to facilitate the transition in such a way that the person in question is helped and resourced in their next steps, is as important as the decision itself.

In my next post, I will continue this and provide some practical ideas to consider when bringing a new person on, so that the prospect of firing them will be greatly reduced. When you step into a new leadership role, you may inherit some people and that’s a topic and discussion of another kind.