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Is Giving Employees a Yes/No Vote in Firings a Better Way to Go?

Ah yes - let's give your teammates a say in whether you get fired or not.  A vote, if you will!

Check out the video below from the Minute MBA series.  It's featuring a company called Valve, a maker of the video games your kids love to play (Left for Dead, anyone?).  The focus is on the Valve way of firing - everyone on the team gets a vote.

Sounds progressive, right?  I like this in theory, and I think the deeper you get into organizational history of where this has been the case, the more serious employees would take the responsibility.

The bigger issue for me?  It's not show friends, it's show business. I'd be worried that I don't get enough votes to fire someone because they're a nice person.  We hear it all the time in employee surveys - what do you like best about working at ACME?  The people. I love the people I work with.

Unfortunately, liking someone doesn't equal results. I'd be more worried in this system about not getting people fired than the people who actually got fired, because let's face it - if 10 of your 12 teammates voted to kick you to the curb, you had it coming.

It's the other way I'd be worried about.  What about you?

(email subscribers click through for video below) 


Sue Meisinger

Like you, I'd like this if I had confidence it would work as smoothly as suggested. But would employees' casting of votes be considered the equivalent to petitioning management regarding a term and condition of employment (by casting this vote I'm joining with my colleagues to say I want to continue to work with someone we all like because, while they may not get any work done, they stand up to a stupid manager)? Isn't that concerted activity, and didn't I read somewhere you have to be a little careful about that?

Jamie Amaral

Perhaps if you combine this with performance-based compensation, you would have a brilliantly balanced and effective system...


I'm all for progressive HR, but there are some things that just shouldn't be messed with and the employee-manager relationship is one of them (in my opinion). I think the energy and focus should be placed on building manager capability around things like accountability, performance management, tough conversations, candor, etc. Putting an employee's fate in the hands of their peer group is just asking for trouble. Too many bad things can happen.


I am not a fan of this for the reasons already stated. The reality is, deciding to fire someone is not easy and this seems like management abdicating their responsibility.


Well, no one likes to work with a slacker, friend or no friend. If it was vote who becomes the boss... now that could get iffy.


Better to simply create a culture where feedback is valued and let the results speak for themselves. By the time it gets to a vote, it's probably too late anyway.

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