3 Questions You Should Ask Before You Fire Someone For Insubordination

Barack Obama

Photo: The White House

Insubordination isn’t just something the President has to face — average bosses deal with it as a regular element of office politics.Of course, the consequences might not be as significant as America’s fate in its overseas military engagements. But your course of action in this situation has serious effects on the atmosphere of your office and how the rest of employees view you.

Over at Harvard Business Review, Harvard B-School Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter lays out the three questions every boss should ask before deciding how to handle an employee who’s speaking out of turn:

  • “Is attitude important for accomplishment?”
  • “What is the impact on the rest of the organisation?”
  • “Is there a qualified replacement?”

Kanter breaks down each question as to how they applied to the Obama-McChrystal showdown.

In terms of attitude, Obama deemed that maintaining a message of solidarity and support between the President and the military was more important than keeping McChrystal on. And, with an experienced individual like General Petraeus available to take over, having a qualified replacement for McChrystal was not an issue.

As for the impact on the rest of the organisation, Kanter says that this situation could have gone either way. On one hand, a shake-up at the top can send a disconcerting message to troops; on the other, letting one individual off easy just because of their position can cause further dissention in the ranks. In the end, Obama chose the value of discipline over potential effects on morale.

Read the entire article over at HBR >

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