Being too nice to terminate someone’s employment creates bigger problems

I remember the first time I had to deal with a team member who wasn’t meeting the needs of his role. We’d gone through the support, the training, trying to find another role. But ultimately none of that worked. So I took the next step.

Which was to sit on it for a few months.

I was terrified – we were such a “nice company”, a “people company”, and had built up a reputation of treating our team well. Firing someone would shatter that in one fell swoop. It would kill our culture. We’d become merciless. Mercenaries like every other company that didn’t care about its team, but only the bottom line.

Or so I thought. I got over my own cowardice and had the discussion with him. Eventually.

After it was done, one of the more forthright members of my team told me that he was relieved I’d dealt with it, because the whole team performed below its aspirations while they were held back by him. What’s more, they were beginning to think that poor performance was acceptable in my books.

Terminating someone’s employment is (almost) never easy. But it may be essential. And if it is, not doing it does no one any favours.

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