Before you fire someone, you MUST do this.

If you’re going to be a Producer in this business, at some point in your career you’re going to have to fire someone.

In fact, if you’re going to run any kind of business, at some point in the life cycle of that business, you’re going to have to fire someone.

Because sometimes the creative team member, actor, usher, manager, etc. just isn’t the right fit. It doesn’t mean you hate them or they hate you.  It just means that this individual isn’t the right person to help make your show the best show it can be.  Not firing them would mean holding the show back, which is a disservice to all the other people who are counting on you to make that show the best it could be.

It happens. So (wo)man up and get ready for it.

How do you get ready for it?

That’s the important part.  Usually a termination comes as a result of some serious frustration, and it’s very easy to let that frustration lead to emotion, which can lead to an abrupt firing.

And that’s what you have to try to avoid.

Whenever I decide that someone has to go, or whenever someone comes to me and says someone has to go, my first question is . . . “Ok.  Then who replaces him/her?”

As a Producer (or a Business Owner) your job is to think about tomorrow, not just today.  It’s easy to get rid of people. It’s harder to replace them.  Which is why I never let anyone go, until I have someone ready to take their place.

Having a standby in the wings not only allows you a seamless transition, and keeps the workflow going, but it lets the rest of your company know that the show isn’t going to be missing a “part” for very long, and gives them confidence that you have a plan in place that is going to be better for everyone (not to mention that a quick replacement can put a teensy-weensy bit of fear in them that they could be replaced as well – which isn’t always such a bad thing).

It’s not fun.  Believe me.  And when it comes time for you to do it, you’re going to want to throw up (I did the first time I fired someone) . . . but I can promise you this.  Every single time I’ve fired someone, the show or company has always been better off.  Always.

And it’s what we have to do.  Because it’s a Producer’s job to put the best team together for the show, and sometimes, it’s a Producer’s job to pull that team apart and reassemble it, and make sure it’s stronger than the one before.

 

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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.

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