I was recently asked for advice on how to deal with someone on your team that is difficult, doesn’t adhere to deadlines, and creates tension in the workplace.

Do you have a heart-to-heart to inspire them?  Do you pay them more money?  Do you do some of the work yourself to take the pressure off?




You fire them.

Actors, creative team members, marketing directors, etc. that are not delivering and causing you intense agita are like extra weight on a sailboat.  They need to be tossed overboard.

As soon as you do, you’ll feel that weight come off of your shoulders, and your boat will start picking up speed.

I’ve fired a number of people in my day, as a company manager, general manager and a producer.  Stagehands, actors, management, web designers, and so on.  Every time I’ve done it, without fail, it has benefited the show or my company.

We work in a small industry that’s the equivalent of a high school cafeteria, where everyone knows everyone, and strong
emotional ties are created.  Sometimes it’s hard to fire someone if they are a friend.  But you have to.

Ending relationships is as important as starting ones, and terminating
someone’s employment is an essential part of every business, including

Some termination tips:

  • Decide you want to do it and don’t look back.  If you find yourself doubting, just think like a big business.  WWMD?  What would Microsoft do?
  • Figure out your plan for the replacement (have someone or a strategy waiting in the wings).
  • Do it quick and say goodbye.  Don’t let people work out their notice.  Pay them to leave right then and there, even if that means giving them two weeks salary or a buyout to not show up.  Take the financial hit and get them out of the building.  Terminated employees are toxic.
  • Get used to the feeling.  If you are a great producer, this won’t be the last time you fire someone.

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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.