I don’t think people ever set out to fail. They’re new, they’re excited, they see themselves as successful, and those of us making the hiring decision also see them as successful. Then something happens. The potential goes unrealized, or the eagerness dissipates. I always ask myself, Was there something that I could have done to make this person successful? Was it a bad fit that I should have seen? Did I overestimate his or her readiness for taking on a new challenge? Was it poor communication? Did I provide enough resources? Enough time? Did the person know I was available?
All leaders need to ask themselves these questions. It doesn’t make firing someone less difficult. But it does force you to learn from the decision and to do a better job of setting the stage, getting the right match, communicating well, and removing other barriers to the success of people who report to you.