Harvard Business Review and Dick Grote: A Management Consultant that Loves the Process of Termination, Dehumanizing Human Employees; Review of Grote’s Article– “A Step-by-Step Guide to Firing Someone”

Grote, Dick (2016). “A Step-by-Step Guide to Firing Someone.” Harvard Business Review. February 17.

Artist: michael sloan

Harvard Business Review has published another article on mass termination, specifically this document of Dick Grote, “A Step-by-Step Guide to Firing Someone.”

The writing is not different from the theme of his writings: that organizations should rank employees into A, B, and C buckets and humiliate, dehumanize, and fire those placed in the C bucket (see Grote’s quote , below, for an example).



Percentage (amounts can be adjusted) Effect
A 20 Lavish rewards, encouragement
B 70 Little to paltry increase
C (aka slackers, slouches, losers, ne’er-do-wells) 10 Pressure to quit or firing

The report is like a recipe of planning destruction in an organized way (creating a transition plan; checking that the employee is not fired on a birthday, shortly before a pension is vested, and so on) making it seem normal, but the effect of the employee losing his or her livelihood and income stream is notably absent.

The immoral notion that human beings can be acquired, used up, demeaned, and then thrown away pervades the report. The notion that management persons are perfect by virtue of their position alone is illogical.

Here is an example of the mindset of Grote that informs his “advice” to disregard an employee’s humanity (and how he can discern what other people feel about his stealthy firing tactics always mystifies me; his pawns example people always agree with him (!)):

Actually, when slackers and slouches are finally fired, managers usually discover that coworkers are relieved. Their peers are the ones who have had to work harder to make up for their shortcomings and slacking off. When terminations are well justified and professionally executed, the rest of the work group realizes that this is a good place to work.

But when obvious losers and occupational ne’er-do-wells are allowed to continue in their positions unchallenged, the message to the talented and energetic is that this is a place to avoid. Those who can find other jobs leave; the ones who stay are those who prefer an employer with low standards.

A final note: The most common problem with terminations is that they don’t happen as fast as they should. Once the decision has been made to pull the plug and start over, don’t dillydally in the misguided hope that — somehow — things may still work out. They never do. Remember: It’s not the people you fire who make your life miserable. It’s the ones you don’t.

Organizations using any procedure promoted by Grote must be aware of his pedigree and the organizational failures that have resulted from using forced ranking (notably the former Enron but also other organizations covered in this blog, the Federal Reserve Board, Amazon, Microsoft, Vanguard, Mount St. Mary’s University, Yahoo).