Do it now.
Throughout my time coaching managers, one of the most common questions I get is “What should I do about so-and-so.” Managers ask me this question when they know exactly what to do, but want to find a better way to do it.
So let me tell you the best way to fire someone: NOW.
Researching for this blog, I came across dozens of politically-correct articles telling you about warning the person, giving them feedback, covering your royal behind with the proper paperwork from HR, etc. I’m going to assume that you’ve done that. By the way, if you haven’t, from a non-legal standpoint, don’t start. Just fire the person.
If your person is not performing, and your organization DOESN’T provide feedback and training to underperforming employees, don’t make an exception for this person. They aren’t a fit. You need self-starters in your company. Fire this person and get people that fit.
I’m not saying it’s a good thing. The most successful organizations provide feedback and training. But this isn’t an article about how to improve your organization. It’s an article about what to do when someone doesn’t perform or doesn’t fit in the company culture.
What you do is this: fire them.
The best time to do that is now.
By the way, it’s not easy. If are excited to fire someone, you are a jerk. Firing people is painful.
The day you find it easy to fire people is the day you know you have lost a piece of your humanity. If you are manager, part of your salary is because the job isn’t easy, and firing people is the most not-easy part of the job.
When you fire the person, he or she will be upset. He or she may not take it in a professional manner and may display unseemly emotions. Yes, you can do some sensitivity training to make it “easier on them” but it is not easy on them. If you want to make it easier on people, give them more severance pay. No matter what you say or do, getting fired has real-life implications and it sucks. More money is the only thing that counters those real-life implications.
Sometimes I hear managers say that they believe it is best for both the person and the company. They say: if the person is not a good fit, they would just suffer in that job anyway and the person will find the job where they truly fit in. That is a nice thing to believe, if it helps you feel better about firing people. I don’t believe that, but if it helps you, fine.
Just like most people stay at a job long after they know they should quit, most managers keep on employees long after they know it’s not working out. Why? Because firing people sucks.
I recently attended Anthony Robbins’ Business Mastery for the second time, and he always asks: “How many of you have someone you know needs to be let go?” Somewhere around 15–20% of the people raise their hands. If you take into consideration that many of the people in the room have no employees, that puts you in good company. A quarter of the people fail to fire someone when they know it’s time.
Robbins said the time to fire someone is when you first know it’s not a fit. That doesn’t mean when you have a fit of rage, but when you are sitting in your office calmly, knowing it isn’t a fit. Once in a blue moon someone tells a story about how they didn’t fire someone and through the right training it all worked out. Those stories are the 2%. 98% of the time, the right thing is to fire the person
If you’re reading this article and you’ve gotten this far, you know why you need to fire this person. You are wishing there were some way to get it right.
There is no way to get it right.
It will be unpleasant.