Crucial Skills®

A Blog by Crucial Learning

Crucial Conversations for Accountability

What Happened: Time to Let People Go

Dear Al,

Your advice, as well as the many cues I took from Crucial Conversations and Crucial Confrontations, were extremely helpful to me as I sat down with the headmaster. I did dismiss him, but as you suggested, we gave him a more than generous severance package and I continue to be a reference for him.

Because of your advice, we also continue to improve all of our job descriptions—not just the description for the headmaster—and this has improved the effectiveness of so many conversations. Now the entire staff is more aware of expectations, and the leaders are able to see how well the people fit those positions or if they are actually suited for their job.

We were also able to take this step to the next level and found that there were a few other people who were better suited for a different job, so instead of having to dismiss more people for poor performance, we were able to put them in a job where they can be successful.

In less than a year, we have seen dramatic improvements. Morale has improved, the work output has increased drastically, and we have saved money. For example, we reassigned two employees in our maintenance department to different existing positions and the maintenance department has accomplished more in the past year than in the previous few years combined, and all with more than a 30 percent savings.  Less money, more work, happier employees.

Thank you for your help and advice!
Sympathetic, yet Certain

Editor’s Note: This letter was received in response to a question Al Switzler answered in the February 22, 2011 Crucial Skills Newsletter titled, “When It’s Time to Let People Go.” If you would like to share similar feedback about the authors’ advice, please e-mail us at

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