One of the toughest things for any leader, manager or supervisor is when you are faced with a decision around whether to let an under performing employee go or not. This can literally be one of the toughest parts of any leadership position, and at the same time, one you are never really prepared for.
It is a tough decision for a lot of reasons. You know you are affecting someone else’s livelihood. It requires you to take a step back and question whether you have done everything you could have done to try and fix the situation. You question your own abilities about being able to help people be successful in their jobs. Finally, you wonder what the impact will be with the rest of your team.
We are often asked, “How do I know, whether I should or not?” This is a question that is tough to answer, especially when you are sitting outside the situation. However, there are a few things you can look for to figure this out for yourself. Here are a few things you should consider:
How “done” are you? It is easy to make it all about them and what they are not doing, however you need to be prepared to look at yourself. In your mind, is the person so far gone, that now you are starting to treat them in a way that will never yield a positive result. For example; are you giving them “crappy” work?, are you avoiding talking to them?, are you no longer bothering to engage with them as you would others? If you have disengaged from them, there is little chance of their success and it might be time to help them move along.
How aware are they, that you are considering ending your working relationship? Good employees generally don’t fall out of the sky, they are created. We like to think they will come to us, solve all our problems and be stars. This is unrealistic. It takes time for people to learn new things, and that means they need to get regular and consistent feedback. If they have been getting corrective feedback, that has been well documented, then the employee should be every bit as aware as you are that things are not working out. If you believe you will blindside them, then you haven’t done enough work.
How critical are they in your organization? The more critical the position, or the more others in your organization depend on them, the higher the need to be able to make a decision on their effectiveness. Sometimes you will make a bad promotion or hiring decision, but when you do, you need to be prepared to act, or otherwise you put all pieces of the business in jeopardy. Generally, individuals in critical positions, come with years of experience or education and shouldn’t be looking to have the same level of training / corrective intervention you would provide to someone more junior.
It is important to recognize people are still good people, even if they don’t fit in your culture or environment. When employees are not performing, most times they are aware they are not fulfilling your needs. Each of us, regardless of who you are, wants to feel like we are either succeeding or we have the chance to succeed. If that is no longer possible for the employee, then no matter how difficult it maybe, you owe it to them to help them find success. Unfortunately sometimes that means, helping them to move on in a way you would appreciate, if it were you.