Who do I make redundant?

I need to make one of two employees redundant. One is better skilled and more productive than the other, but is unpopular with other workers. The other is less efficient, but has been with the company for a long time and is well liked. What should I do?

A. Richard Reed of Innocent Drinks writes:

You should always look for an alternative solution to the problem, but if a decision between the two people has to be made, the answer isn’t as simple as just choosing; you have to look at the two individuals within the context of the wider team.

Person 1 is unpopular, but skilled and productive. First of all, why is he unpopular? Sensing he is unpopular isn’t enough to base a decision on – you need to find out why. Perhaps, he works so much that he doesn’t mix well with others? In that case, you can help make amends to that by looking at his work load or time management skills and try to integrate the person better into the team. If he has annoying habits – well, that can be amended too, with a little sensitivity.

Person 2 is a great guy and we all love going to the pub with him after work, but isn’t quite as productive or skilled. To get the best out of people in the workplace, you have to put them in a job they are suited to and give them the tools and support to do the job.

If Person 2 isn’t being very productive, we have to look at where the fault lies. Is he being unproductive because we have not given him the right tools and support? Is the job right for him or are we trying to fit a round peg into a square hole? It’s possible that with better or different management this person could thrive.

To some people, it would seem obvious to keep person 1 who performs the best. After all, surely that is what your business needs most, great performers who contribute to the business in a monetary sense? But look at it from a different point of view. There are also people you have working with you who are part of the foundation of the company – the ones who believe in what they do and drive the business forward as a team – whose contribution is less directly tangible, but equally important in terms of team dynamics.

When making a decision like this, you need to consider those things about the individuals that are set in stone and those that could possibly change through coaching, a change in direction or a new management approach.

Second, it is worth having a think about your overall team and what sort of person you most need to move the business forward. It might not always be the one you think of first.


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