There is nothing worse in HR than having to terminate a high performer. If you’re in the game long enough you will eventually end up facing this situation. A high performer does something incredibly stupid, and even though everyone in the organization wants to keep him or her, you all know they have to go.
Nothing sucks more.
I’ve seen executives in very large companies almost lose their own jobs because they tried to save a high performer from getting fired. We like to think only idiots and low performers get fired, but something really good performers will get fired because of bad circumstances. Take the case of Cincinnati Bengals Linebacker Vontaze Burfict and his illegal hit on Pittsburg Steelers Wide Receiver Antonio Brown in last week’s NFL playoff game:
Let’s be clear, I’m not a fan of either team, just an observer. He could have killed Antonio Brown!
Okay, one bad hit. One bad choice. You don’t fire a person over that! Especially, a person of Vontaze’s talent. He might be the single biggest reason Cincinnati actually made the playoffs this year.
Herein lies the problem. For how great of a performer Vontaze is, he has one major issue that the Bengals and the NFL can’t ignore, he seems like he truly wants to injure other players! Vontaze now has a ‘history’ of trying to hurt opposing players with questionable and illegal hits. He was fined this year by the NFL to the tune of $169,000 in the 2015-2016 alone. His hit on Antonio Brown alone will cost upwards of million dollars in fines and lost game wages!
So, what do you do?
It’s something the Cincinnati Bengals are going to have to determine. They can’t keep him and have him continue to do this. It’s not good for the franchise brand. Although, some will argue it actually might help their brand. In the NFL, you need white hats and black hats! Not everyone can be the good guys.
Here’s the problem you face if you’re the Bengals leadership. You allow Vontaze to continue to play. Vontaze will do what Vontaze does, which is play dirty. He’s proven that with his actions. His past performance has shown you what his future performance will be!
This won’t come back on Vontaze. It will come back on other players on the Bengals team, more than likely a highly skilled offensive player like a quarterback or wide receiver. Vontaze will go out and hurt his next victim, and the other team will eventually retaliate. The Bengals risk this if they keep Vontaze around.
Great performer. One major career derailer.
It sucks to have to let a great performer go, but many times it’s the best thing to do for the over health and wellbeing of the organization. It never ceases to amaze me, though, at what some in the organization will do to keep that risk around.