We’re not a good fit – huh?

I’m hearing it frequently these days.  A phone message from a former client or a new one, expressing concern and frustration.  “We’re just not a good fit, so we are letting you go” –  What does that mean?

Maybe it’s humane.  Like no-fault divorce or no-fault fender-benders.  If so, hmm, I guess that’s okay.  Maybe they will say that in a reference check and that’s not a bad thing.

Recently I heard it from someone who was nearing the end of the probationary period.  In this situation, it might mean just exactly that.  Someone was looking down the road and didn’t like the sight.  We aren’t a good fit. 

I think the underlying question is this:  is the poor fit about skills or personality?  

May I suggest something?  In the interest of tact, you managers can stick with We’re not a good fit.  You know how to say it and it avoids conflict.  But if you would be willing to add just a bit of constructive feedback about skills and your organizational outlook, the pain can be lessened.  Try this:

  • We’re just not a good fit.  We are uncertain as to whether we are continuing our in-house publications, and we know that’s your specialty.
  • We’re just not a good fit.  We are a small outfit that doesn’t match your international experience.
  • We’re just not a good fit. Financially, there is no future for this position.

Employers, please be positive about the employee’s potential.  Stress a marketable skill or two, offer a specific accomplishment as a reference point, and thank the not-a-good-fit person for being a valued (if short-term) colleague.  Manners go a long way in the healing process.

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