People Performance: When It’s Time to Fire an Employee
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Have you ever had an employee who you just knew wasn’t keeping up?
Sometimes, you end up with someone in your organization who isn’t the right person in the right seat at the right time. Often this is someone who is a good cultural fit. Everyone loves them, and they’re a great team member.
But their performance is only so-so. We call these your “good enough” employees.
A good enough employee is often a longtime team member. They don’t make egregious mistakes, but they don’t do their job all that well either.
In your heart of hearts, you know that your company would be better off with a different person in that role. But if you’re like 99% of entrepreneurs, firing someone isn’t your favorite part of the job (if it is, please seek help).
And the thought of hiring and training a new person to fill that role is…exhausting.
You keep the good enough team member around, and you tell yourself it’s fine. It’s not really causing major issues.
The problem is…you’re wrong. In this case, good enough isn’t good enough.
Keeping a team member who isn’t the right fit harms everyone in your organization and the business itself.
It’s a delicate subject to talk about, this business of moving people on from your company. I am not known for being the most delicate person, but I am known for speaking my mind. Someone’s got to do it.
5 reasons why you should consider moving on from your “good enough” employees
They’re holding up your cash
This boils down to: you can’t afford to hire additional resources because you’re already paying the “good enough” employee. But you also can’t accomplish what you need to because this team member simply isn’t up to the task.
You may be afraid that you won’t be able to find a better team member with your current budget. I’ll tell you that you’re probably wrong—money isn’t the only motivator for people. And besides, it’s better to invest slightly more in a team member who will be more of an asset to your organization.
On rare occasions, you can move a team member to a different seat (and sometimes if the person is REALLY the right person, that is a good option—good people are hard to find). But be careful not to kid yourself. You need to make sure the company has a seat that is necessary for this person to step into. Otherwise, they’ll continue to hold up your cash.
They’re risking your relationships
An employee who isn’t the right fit will usually demonstrate that in a few ways with their work. They won’t be able to stay on top of their workload, can’t fully hit their targets, will make mistakes, or all of the above.
I mentioned earlier that these team members probably aren’t making massive mistakes—hopefully that’s true. But if they’re consistently making smaller mistakes, those errors add up. And if their work affects clients, there’s even more risk. Small mistakes can erode a client’s trust in you over time. Your team doesn’t need to be perfect, but they should be very, very good.
They’re bumming out your team
This might be the most overlooked aspect of keeping on a good enough employee: the impact it has on your team. Your highest-performing team members are probably picking up the slack for an employee who’s good enough, and that’s not a fair situation for them.
So by continuing to let one team member slide, you’re placing a greater burden on those team members who make the best contributions to your team. And if one team member keeps missing their targets without any consequences, it sends the wrong message to the rest of your employees…something’s wrong with this picture!
They’re probably not happy, either
An honest conversation about performance might lead to an easier resolution than you expect. People aren’t usually satisfied in a job where they can’t meet expectations. And even if it seems like your employee is blissfully unaware that they’re falling short, that’s probably not the case.
Most team members in this situation aren’t surprised when the discussion comes up, and very often, they’ve already been thinking about moving on from the company. The good news is that in many cases, I’ve seen employees go on to thrive in companies and roles that were a better fit for their gifts and talents after being let go.
They’re choking your growth
For all of the reasons listed here, keeping a good enough employee is one of the lesser-known killers of business growth. Making decisions about moving team members out of your org is never easy—but if you want to scale your business, it is necessary.