Dear SaaStr: Why Do Great Employees Get Fired?

I’ve hired a lot. Lost a bunch, but fired very, very few.  But I’ve watched some tough ones, some truly potentially epic talent get fired. This seemed to happen for two different (though related) reasons in the BigCo vs. The Start-Up:

1. In a Big Co. It’s very easy to get fired if you are in any way a threat to your boss’ bonus, or boss’ corporate status. Period. Vs. it’s very hard to get fired if you are just in the Top 50% and aren’t a threat to your boss’ bonus.  Layoffs in BigCos happen all the time, but in reality, the folks impacted are the ones who are ranked in the bottom 5%-20% of the team.

But send that seemingly critical (but accurate) email to your boss’ boss? Good-bye sir. Thank you, Jerry McGuire. You’re out.

In the BigCo, it’s not about the name on the front of the jersey, it’s the name on the back. Your boss probably doesn’t care much at all about the overall corporate KPIs and success (if he or she even cares at all). He only cares about his own KPIs. And he really cares that you don’t undermine his chances of getting paid out > 100% on his personal KPIs.

2. In a Start-Up. You undermine the authority of the founders or other key leaders, consistently. This is really the one sin, past a certain point, you can’t tolerate. The team has to work together. You don’t have to respect The Man. But you do have to respect Your Man. If you take that too far, and treat the CEO or founder of a start-up as The Man … you may get fired.

A related post here:

The Irreplaceable But Toxic Employee

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