‘But he’s such a nice guy, I really like him… but oh his quality is so bad even though I’ve been giving him feedback for over 6 months… I mean… maybe he’ll get better??’
‘Uuugh her work is good… but the team hate working with her and she is kinda… well… mean to people’
‘He’s great at what he does… but it’s like pulling teeth to get any work out of him, I’m spending hours each day just getting him to do his job!’
Ok Bosses, I’ve heard it all before. You don’t want to fire someone because… well there’s a multitude of reasons - don’t want to have to recruit to replace, too busy to deal with it, hoping it will go away, actually really like the person, and the big one: don’t want to be a jerk.
And you know what, firing is DEFINITELY not the first option on the table! Have those tough grown up conversations to talk about what’s not working, what you would expect to see changed and agree on what they’ll try differently (and how you will support). Of course that’s the first approach.
But sometimes… you HAVE to be willing to be the bad guy and get someone off your team, even though it feels like crap. And of course HUGE disclaimer here, before going down this route you MUST check in with your local employment legislation to ensure you're doing it the right way.
Here are the top three times firing really IS the right option:
1. Creating Toxic Team Culture… aka they are an a$$hole
This one should be easy but bosses get seduced with the person’s quality of work. I get it, they write good code or create good graphics or whatever the task is. BUT if they are always miserable, treat the rest of the team like garbage and bring down EVERYONE else’s motivation… to the point where some of your other team may even be thinking of leaving to avoid working with them??
It’s time to go. They obviously aren’t the right fit for your team and NO ONE wants to be that person on a team (even if it seems like they don’t care, trust me, they’re not happy either)
2. Skill mismatch… aka unable to do the job no matter how much you help them
This is such a hard one. Because you LIKE them. You probably spend a ridiculous amount of time chatting and talking about personal stuff during your meetings, you genuinely think they’re great… they just can’t seem to do a good job no matter how much support, training or feedback you give them.
I KNOW this one is hard, trust me, it freaking sucks. But it’s time to let them go. No one wants to be bad at their job, and being continually told their work isn’t good enough isn’t right for them or you (or the rest of the team who are likely picking up the slack). I know it feels like shit but they need to be in a role where they are liked AND valued for their work.
3. Motivational Swamp land… aka can do the job but really doesn’t seem to want to no matter what you do
Ah the good old ‘can do it but won’t do it’ team member. And this one is truly frustrating because you know they CAN do good work, you’ve seen it before… they just don’t. You can’t figure out why.
Full disclosure… this one might actually be your fault. Maybe they just struggle with the way you manage or give direction or the team dynamic. There is a chance this one can be saved with a grown up conversation.
But likely it’s a mismatch and they would be more successful somewhere else, and you would be better off having a team member who naturally seems to work well in your team’s dynamic and can hit the ground running, without you constantly checking in with them.
This one is hard because it is more of a grey area, but just keep in mind, as a small biz owner you don’t have the luxury of oodles of money to hire people who sometimes do good work. You need the dream team who are just as in it as you.
And remember, you don’t actually say ‘you’re fired, get the f*ck out of my company’ and never talk to them again! Believe it or not you actually CAN terminate someone’s employment with you AND do it while being kind and respectful.
It’s time boss. Free up you and your team’s workload and get those people off the team. Let me know what questions or comments you got!