People aren't trash.
Some management cultures pass the trash. That is, take non-peformers from one area and send them to another. Indeed, ever the watchdog for the organization, HR sometimes shows the red card then yelling, you can't pass the trash!
We do this to protect the receiving corps from assuming trouble unknowingly.
Good old HR.
Lest I sound sanctimonious note I've used this phrase myself. Unlike Bill Clinton I damn sure did inhale, drink the kool-aid and every other euphemism you want to use to describe aping cultural artifact.
And, like Bill, I was wrong.
At some point leaders have to ask, who do we serve?
Life offers a thousand masters – love, money, greed, power, truth, beauty and so on – but that's not the point. The question is, how do we serve people?
In this particular vernacular, its more than the derogatory nature of the crude refence, its the subtle point underlying same. We never actually intervene with the person to find out what they need/want. We don't care. We're moving the problem from one point to the next in the ultimate Ponzi scheme.
As they say on the Street, it doesn't matter since IBGYBG (I'll be gone, you'll be gone) before we see results.
People don't matter.
This post is not a simple rant against pejorative language: it uncovers underlying belief systems. Cultures that don't think its okay to move a problem from one place to another have a definitive world view: you make it here or you're out.
Admittedly this view has certain benefits. While not properly defined as motivation per se, this technique sure as hell gets our attention: up or out. Consultancies, law firms and accounting practices have long used this approach. And when you enage professional services, you're damn glad they did.
Is it the right approach for your firm? That's a foundation question.
The alternative of course is to find an environment people can shine in even if that requires time and experimentation. Edison, Oprah, Churchill and Dr Seuss are all examples of people who were abject failures in prior attempts and then, in the right circumstances, flourished.
So there is a plausible counter argument that says its appropriate to find the right environment for people to perform in as opposed to simply writing off x percent of investment in hiring as a cost of business.
As with many of life's questions we have no absolute answer.
It is a valid organization strategy to say people have to make it in their roles or leave. Its just as beneficial to hold that there are multiple potential paths and [therefore] its a sound expense of time and money to pursue longer-term development.
The question really becomes what is your firm's framework? What lens do you choose to see the world through? Once that view is established its paramount to share the framework with employees so they understand the environment they've immersed themselves in.
Neither is manifestly right or wrong, but they are very different and thus not suitable for everyone. People have a right to know expectations.
Whatever practice you employ, know this: people are not refuse.