GE Renewable Energy’s decision to split into three companies shook the business world. Bill and Melinda Gates’ split – after 27 years of marriage, shocked many. And the latest — Kim Kardashian and Pete Davidson, who seemed to have weathered many storms, also called it quits.
Whether you have functioned as one unit for 100 years like GE, or only nine months, as Kardashian and Davidson, the decision to end the relationship can be difficult but necessary.
In his book, Necessary Endings, Henry Cloud offers, based on extensive research and interviews of CEOs, that some relationships – whether professional or personal, must come to an end in order for your business (or life) to thrive.
In your business, ending a work relationship – whether it’s with an employee, a client, or an investor – may be necessary. Cloud posits that before parting ways, it is important to consider with whom you are dealing. Are you dealing with someone — Wise? Foolish? Evil?
3 types of individuals:
The Wise are defined not by their level of intelligence but rather, their receptiveness to feedback and willingness to change. You present an issue and provide feedback. The wise person, in turn, may provide an explanation but focuses on taking ownership and doing things differently based on the feedback. These individuals are keepers because even though they may drop the ball again, they have demonstrated an openness to learning and correcting.
The Foolish are characterized by their unwillingness to assume responsibility for mistakes and adjust. When you provide them with feedback, they immediately become defensive and provide a flurry of reasons why it’s someone else’s fault and not their own. Your feedback will continue to fall on deaf ears because the foolish are not receptive to it. They respond to consequences. Rather than continuing to provide feedback, focus on outlining consequences – i.e., demotion or termination, for continued performance deficiencies.
The Evil are more of a liability than an asset. While they may produce good work, they’re toxic and breed turmoil. They do not fall neatly into either the wise or foolish category because it is not their work that is deficient, but rather, their persona. You may ask them to stop being so x, y, z but your request may yield no changes. It’s who they are and even though they are in a work environment, they are not willing to dial it back a notch. With the evil, you simply have to let them go. Keeping them will result in more losses – including employee dissatisfaction, attrition, and perhaps your own well-being — than gains.
While it may be relatively easy to hold onto wise employees, it may be difficult to let go of the foolish or evil employees for an array of reasons.
“Hope” is one big reason. While having hope is desirable – and arguably, necessary for survival, it is important to know when it is warranted. As a business owner, you may find it difficult to end a work relationship because you may be hopeful that the other party will see the light and make necessary changes.
But consider, what is your hope based on? Is it based on a desire or wish that the employee will change? Or is hope based on objective evidence – i.e. past behavior, that suggests there is reason to “hope” that improvements are on the horizon? When it comes to a business, holding onto false hope and delaying a necessary ending may cost you.
One can only wonder whether GE, Bill and Melinda Gates, and Kim Kardashian and Pete Davidson assessed each other (or parts of the “unit”) on the basis of the Wise-Foolish-Evil characterization, but one thing is certain – they concluded that an ending was necessary and that their time and energy would be better spent elsewhere.