How to know when it’s time to fire someone


Determining whether you need to let someone go is one of the most difficult things you would have to do as an entrepreneur. Also, knowing when to let someone go is the toughest part of being a leader. This is what differentiates the leaders from your everyday entrepreneurs.

Your everyday entrepreneur will agonize over these types of decisions even after the decision has been made. They will also spend a great deal of time reflecting whether they actually did the right thing or if it was a huge mistake.

Although it’s not always possible to know 100%, asking yourself some simple questions can help you draw a clearer picture and provide you with the assistance you need. Equally as important, by asking yourself these questions, you won’t find yourself second-guessing later on.

Here are some of the questions you should try and answer before deciding to fire/keep an employee:

  1. If that person would apply at your company for a job today, knowing the ins and outs of your business, would you hire him/her?

Should you answer yes or even maybe, then you should probably retain that employee. It’s just a good business decision because he or she brings some value to your company.

  1. How would I feel if this employee decided to resign?

If you feel relief, than you should go ahead and do it without any regrets because you feel and consider that the person doesn’t bring any sort of value to the company. Or even if he or she does, the cons outweigh the pros.

  1. If I fire this employee, how will it affect the company culture?

Great leaders always take into account how letting an employee go will affect the morale of the team, especially within a start-up. Instead of firing a person that underperforms not because lack of trying and thus affecting the team morale, try and discuss with the employee and make him see the error of his ways especially if he cares about the company. Sooner rather than later he or she will see that something isn’t working and he/she will leave on his/her own good will.

  1. Why did things go wrong?

For example, you might have 10 sales representatives and 9 of them meet their targets, yet one cannot manage to do so even though he’s received the proper guidance and training. If this is the case, maybe it is time to let that person go. Despite they might be a great sales rep, they may not be the right sales rep for your firm. However, if you’re selling a new product or your company intends to sell his products on a new market but your salesperson is trying his/her best to make quota, maybe, the problem isn’t the salesperson. Therefore, if you go any further, see whether the issue is with the employee or with the job itself.

  1. Did you offer timely guidance?

When a bad situation begins to unfold, it helps if you offer timely feedback. In the case a person doesn’t manage to fulfill his/her daily duties, the person should know that should this happen again, the following month will be let go. It should never come as a surprise.

Regardless of what else may happen, you still owe your employees feedback that will help them do their jobs better. And the feedback should come as early as possible so that the employees have a good chance of improving before things begin to implode.

  1. Was I wrong to hire that person?

It’s not about hiring a person; you need to learn for next time. Was I wrong in hiring that person for this position? What didn’t work? Was the timing off or what should I have done differently?

Trying to find answers to all these questions is extremely important given the fact that firing an employee is a tough thing to do. The pesky feeling of pain a leader feels when firing someone should also drive some learning.

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