Get Fired or Support Mediocrity?

I recently got fired by a client and am very pleased with that outcome. From the start, I made it clear that success (achieving their goals) would only happen if:

  • They would actually make the changes I recommended;
  • The president would embrace and drive those changes;
  • Their people would want to be part of the process;
  • The changes would be perceived as necessary to continued growth and success of the company.

Certainly, we would need to work closely to customize everything to their organization. However, the organization has a history of not changing, fighting change, and not trusting one another. I told them this was a major concern for me. They assured me that they were ready, willing, and able to learn, experiment, and adapt.

We assessed their organization and found that we could easily move their growth rate from 4% annually to more than 10%. It would mean growth that they had never seen before. However, they had to behave differently, change structure, hire different types of people, revise their compensation program, and manage more effectively. They understood, agreed and wanted to move forward.

We did our kick-off with the management team on their word that they were committed, and without a signed contract. It was obvious after the two days that their management team was not ready, and that most were not willing and some not able to follow through. Recommendations were made, contracts needed to be signed, and the President liked what he initially saw.

After 3 months the contract was finally signed, so we could really get started. The delay had already seriously damaged the momentum and integrity of the process. After one year, not one recommendation has ever been implemented. I got into trouble many times for talking about topics that were foreign to the way the company has always done things. I was told indirectly what they really wanted was for me to make everyone happy and for there to be no conflict. The managers’ feedback was that they were already doing everything the right [old] way, even though there was evidence to the contrary. As I showed them alternative concepts, they gave me the obligatory “That wouldn’t work here”… but couldn’t explain why. On a side note, they believe it is the President that needs to do all the development, not them.

In the end, their message was, “Thank you very much, but your style does not work in this organization. We are going to move in another direction.” In other words, they are going to keep doing what they have always done and will be so surprised when they get the same results they have always had. I am glad to be fired because this is an organization that is content to be mediocre, whereas the entire focus of my organization is the achievement of excellence. I would rather be fired than be part of an organization full of people that do not want to continually become better at what they do. I would rather be fired than be part of a company that perpetuates mediocre talent and poor leadership.

Howard Shore is a business growth expert that works with companies that want to maximize their growth potential by improving strategy, enhancing their knowledge, and improving motivation. To learn more about him or his firm please contact Howard Shore at 305.722.7213 or

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