CEO Tells the Truth About Why He Fired Two Senior Managers

The CEO of a Chicago-based technology company called me based on an article I wrote on the great resignation.

He asked that I put what he said in print so that other CEOs could look at it and examine their practices.

It’s hard to admit, but COVID made our company stronger—even though we fired two top managers and half a dozen supervisors.  

We didn’t expect the pandemic to last. When it did, we had to look at everything we did and decide what functions, team members and tasks were essential and what didn’t produce value for our customers, our bottom line, or our future.

Here’s what we learned:

COVID had left our employees feeling disconnected from our company.

This was dangerous because we knew that motivated, engaged, accountable employees were key to our future. That meant we had to re-engage our employees.

To do so, we had to learn how to take care of employees so we could re-energize and retain them.   

Taking care of our employees meant allowing flexible schedules so our employees could really have work/life balance. After making the initial mistake of requiring all employees to return on-site, we transitioned to hybrid. There wasn’t a reason other than “it was the way we did it” to require all employees to return to the office for tasks they could handle at home or on Zoom.

We had to decide which team members we really needed, based on their unique talents and what they produced. We learned some of our employees were more valuable than some of our managers and supervisors.

We decided we’d pay our employees based on merit, which led some of them to earn more than their supervisors or some of the managers.  

Not all our managers and supervisors could handle the shift in thinking and operating. We had expected some of our supervisors were deadweight. So we blessed them out the door.

The real shock was that two of our most senior managers, who’d been with the company a long time and were paid hefty salaries, couldn’t make the switch from power, privilege, and control to understanding our greatest strength was our employees.   

I won’t pretend it wasn’t painful to learn this and ultimately fire both. But it’s exciting that our company is in better shape than it was pre-COVID.

It’s too bad it took a pandemic for us to figure this out.

Here’s the article that led the CEO to call,

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3 thoughts on “CEO Tells the Truth About Why He Fired Two Senior Managers

  1. Having worked the majority of my life in remote areas sans amenities, I have often felt morale of the employees was the difference between success or failure.

  2. There is much said and unsaid here. The decisions to really look at how managers were doing in terms of results and contributions seems sound. I hope the managers were apprised that they were being evaluated and particularly what they were being evaluated on. I hope there were lower-down employees who were let go, as well; we all know of coworkers who are largely slackers–otherwise this largely looks like cost-cutting dressed up in fancy clothes.

  3. Good comments. Susan, from what the man said when he called, the leaders spent time looking at their organization before decisions were/ And you’re absolutely right, some employees are slackers, and require solid supervision or to be blessed out the door.

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