When It’s Time to Let Someone Go

I overheard a woman speaking to a friend in a coffee shop about the breakdown of her marriage. She said that she realised when her husband was going on a business trip and that she hoped the plane crashed, that it was time to end her marriage herself rather than hoping an additional 200 people might die in the process. As managers, we sometimes have a feeling that it is time for an employee to leave the organisation but we are reluctant to take that step, or avoid it, for a variety of reasons.

A few weeks ago on the 1st of June 2015, I read an interesting article in the Australian Financial Review titled “When it’s time to fire an employee who is ‘good enough’”. The title is quite confronting for anyone, both employer and employee, but it’s a subject that is not talked about very often openly.Hire-and-Fire-ID-10095091

There are many times when as a manager, you feel that an employee has reached the limit of their growth potential, or having been with your organisation for some time, their performance has dropped.

The article highlights three occasions where a manager might consider it’s time to move someone on. The article was originally published in the Harvard Business Review, so the term ‘fire’ is used in an environment where terminating the employment of employees is much easier. You can read the full article here.

The three occasions listed in the article are:

  • Is the employee meeting the responsibilities listed on their job description?
    • There can be many reasons why this might happen including boredom but it’s an important question to ask. Managers might be blinded to the truth of the fact that long-term employees are no longer performing.
  • Can the market offer you a better employee for the same price?
    • In addition to the example given in the article, I suggest that as hard as it can be, the market might be able to offer you a better employee at a reduced cost.
  • If the employee resigned would you fight to keep him or her?
    • This is the ultimate litmus test. If you receive a resignation from someone and you’re relieved it’s a sign that this should have been attended to some time ago. So honestly think about that person in this way and decide what to do about it.

To these three things I would add the following:

  • The employee is causing team disruption
  • The employee starts saying ‘that’s the way we’ve always done it’
  • When they start saying ‘no’ a lot and finding reasons why things can’t be done

Does this blog post strike a chord with you? What do you need to do about it?