Someone once told me “hire slow and fire fast”, sounds easy right? I have let go of a number of people in my career and it’s never comfortable, but it does get easier when you do it at the right time.
Firing an employee is one of the hardest decisions a business owner has to make in their work. Even when someone is doing a terrible job, stealing from you, or has lost all your trust- it’s still difficult to pull the trigger. While some business owners love the act of letting someone go, it isn’t that common, and most feel a sense of sympathy for the employee or nervousness for the awkward moment.
Here are three tips to know when it’s time to let someone go, so you feel confident that you’re making the right decision:
1. They want to leave
While it feels uncomfortable, and will definitely be difficult, it is extremely important to let someone go when they aren’t respecting you, your business, or themselves. At first, the feeling is that you are the one screwing them over, but trust me, if they have gotten to this point, they want to leave. Most employees by the time you meet with them to discuss the subject have already talked about it a 100 times with their friends. They’ve told them how much they hate the job and wish they were doing something else, but just like you they are worried to take the leap. If anything, you’re helping them grow just as much as this will ultimately help your business grow.
2. They’ve spoiled the well and impacted your everyday
Why fire fast? Because the minute an employee starts to be a problem, you know they’ve begun to share their “frustrations” with the rest of the team. This only leads to further issues for the business and even sleepless nights for the owners that always have one eye open. Disgruntled employees feel it is their duty to help the rest of the team by sharing their concerns frequently, but all they are doing is spreading misinformation, reducing team moral, and ultimately hurting the growth of your business. Let them go the minute you feel it is time, because the longer you wait, the more employee complaints you’ll get.
3. You’ve lost a client, project, or sale
While mistakes will happen and it’s important to be understanding as an owner, it’s also crucial to identify when the problem isn’t the business it’s the employee. I have lost tons of clients, sales, and projects all because of an employee of who just stopped caring, was disrespectful, or lacked the skills to do the job. If you are ever asked to cancel services or to remove a certain employee from a job, take the time to analyze why. If you think it could be the client, don’t let the employee go, give them another chance. If it happens more than once though and you see the employee is somewhat to blame, but doesn’t take ownership or learn from the mistake, it’s time to let them go.
Now one piece of advice to keep in mind is be transparent, communicate the reasoning (if you can), and give an opportunity to other employees to feel appreciated by improving some of the things the difficult past employee might have been right about. This shows your current team you care and your not going to just start firing people. It’s important for the team to feel appreciated and for you to feel confident in your decision.
Finally, most of the time, if these three things are the case, the employee will even admit it in your meeting and will probably wind up leaving on good terms. Just remember these warning signs, be clear, honest, and communicate your concerns so no employee can take advantage of you or your business. Just remember, it’s best to know when it’s time to let them go!