What was the reason why you most recently fired someone?

SmartPulse -- our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership -- tracks feedback from over 250,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our newsletter.

What was the reason why you most recently fired someone?

  • Poor performance: 54.8%
  • I've never fired anyone: 15%
  • Layoff (not their fault): 10.1%
  • Breaking company rules: 9%
  • Illegal activity: 5.3%
  • Some other reason: 5.7%

Behave and perform. While illegal or rule-breaking behaviors will get you fired, clearly poor performance is the biggest risk to continued employment. The real question to the leader who does the firing. Did you make expectations clear? Did you provide the person the resources and training they needed to perform? Did you provide timely feedback and coaching or did you wait until things got so bad that you were forced to take action? While not every person is suited to every job, if someone gets fired for a performance issue, leaders need to own their part of the problem and ensure they’re taking care of future employees as best they can to prevent similar situations from happening in the future. Sure, not everyone will succeed but as a leader you need to give them a fighting chance.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS. Before launching his own company, he worked at McKinsey & Co., Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He's the author of three leadership books: "One Piece of Paper," "Lead Inside the Box" and "The Elegant Pitch."