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Jack Ma's Tips on Personnel Management - Learn to Fire People

By ESC Editorial Team, over 5 years ago People
Jack Ma's Tips on Personnel Management - Learn to Fire People

Learn to fire people

Some people say that in China, it is difficult to fire people. As for dismissing an employee, I always insist on one opinion: be kind but decisive. If you want to expel a member of staff, the least advisable way is a bargaining war. Just imagine that you had been extremely satisfied with an employee, but failed in every attempts of putting it on the table. Over and over again, your hesitation hurts even more, and might be bad for his future development.

There was a time when I kept saying that if a HR that has never fired others he/she is not allowed to take charge of recruitment. Though it sounds a little bit idealistic in a big company, what I am trying to stress is that HR who has dismissed an employee will take the task of hiring a new one more seriously.

Just give a straightforward answer

Many leaders may encounter a situation like this: you want to criticise someone, but you worry that he might get hurt or feel sad, so, instead of getting straight to the point, you choose to start the conversation with some superficial praises. 

This happens frequently. But as a leader, you should understand that this is your job, to talk with your employees. If you don’t do that, you are the one who should be fired, because you are not accomplishing your tasks. Of course, if putting aside your status, you should consider other’s feeling during the communication.

Let’s imagine another scene. You arrive at a new workplace, your boss firstly comes to you and talks with you for 15 minutes. His 15-minute speech might be extraordinarily impressive and unforgettable and will stay in your memory regarding this company. Take this kind of opportunity is my advice to all leaders.

Recruitment is like picking up good staffs

Some companies spend much time on evaluating staff performance and ranking the annual bonus, but in my opinion, more time and energy should be shifted to the recruitment. If you pick the wrong staff at the beginning, no matter how much effort and how many instruction that you invest could be helpless. 

It is crucial to spend time on recruiting new employees. Do not be obsessed with ‘the best person’; try to find the most suitable one. No one is perfect, and a talented guy is sometimes a bit weird. The best one will be born after continuous training and communication. Remember that suitable staff forged in the right way makes a good talent.

Never give chance to “white rabbits”

There was once a kind, female employee, but all the people that she recruited were very unreliable. That made us draw the conclusion that some people will hire those who are weaker, so as to keep them safe. We called this group of men who are kind but do little or no work as “white rabbit”. Watch out so you can wipe them out before they multiply rapidly in your company. 

A small firm possibly succeeds because it recruits competent and upright employees, but for a big firm it is important that unsuitable staff are dismissed as soon as possible.

How to cultivate successors?

Every company should implement a successor system for each position. Even though many companies know that without such a system they will run into trouble, few put such a system in place.

Rotation is the best strategy of a successor system especially for a young and vigorous company. A lacking of talents should be blamed for an incorrect successor system; a corrupted system and low efficiency are the consequences of an imperfect evaluation system. 

Regional managers or department managers in our companies will be asked to report regularly on the seasonal performance. Whilst they will prepare these very carefully we will sometimes change the topic like emphasizing outlook for the future or corporate culture. When they are ready to discuss these values in the next meeting we will then ask them about performance. It is a kind of training; we want the successors to be well-rounded. 

Compulsory rotation enables successors to learn more and play more. Some people worry that changing the leader might affect the business development when the business is going well. However, it doesn’t make a huge difference when everything goes well even if the head is not so strong. On the other hand, if in a disadvantaged team if the head can integrate well in this environment, he or she is part of the ruling class. There are also some employees who possess a strong ability but find it very difficult to achieve a good performance. At this point, placing them in a team that works smoothly can enhance their confidence. 

There is an old saying that a suspected man cannot be used -- if you doubt a person, then do not use him. As for a corporation on a large scale, you need to doubt and then invest on them. I would like more time to be spent on system improvement, motivation system and punishment mechanism, all essential elements to keep a company running.

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