Eight Signs It’s Time to Say Goodbye to An Employee

The moment you realize you need to let an employee go is kind of like a punch in the stomach… or if you’ve known it needed to happen for a long time, an aching pain you’re trying to ignore. Because termination is difficult, no matter how poorly an individual is performing.

You worked long and hard to recruit that person and onboard them, and now you have to start from the beginning again.Add on the simple awkwardness of having to break the news and even the most experienced managers might get queasy.

Many bosses are so uncomfortable with termination that they’ll let a low performer work for them far longer than they should. That’s why it’s so important to know the signs you should be looking for a replacement, so you can approach the situation objectively rather than getting distracted by emotions.We’ll get into the eight signs to look out for below, but first you need to know the four key reasons it’s so important to identify weak players early on…

  • Money.Having an underperformer on your team is a huge financial burden.You lose the opportunity to have talent who could add to your bottom line, rather than detracting from it.

  • Flight risks.It’s amazing how much one person who doesn’t fit the culture can increase the risk of other employees quitting, aka, “flight risks.”When that happens, it can take up to a full year to rebuild a department or get a project back on track – depending on the number of employees who left and what their position(s) were.

  • Energy.A poor performer drains your physical and mental energy by adding more to your plate and cluttering your mind as you make the tough decision to let them go.Feeling drained can dramatically negatively impact your business, career, health, and happiness.

  • Your success.You won’t meet your goals with underperformers on board, and this could impact your personal career trajectory at your current company, and down the road.It might even affect you financially since it has the potential to reduce your bonus.

  • Are you with me so far?I know terminating someone’s employment is tough, but the most successful managers and C-level executives have the ability to be direct and make tough decisions.It can be challenging to know who to let go and who to keep, so here are the top eight signs you need to replace someone…

  • Your nearest and dearest know the whole story.If you’ve vented (without using their name, of course) about an employee at the dinner table with your family and/or close friends 3+ times, it’s time to let them go. Once they start affecting you so much that you’re discussing them after hours, it’s time to say goodbye.

  • You give them the same feedback over and over.If you’ve given the problematic team member the same guidance 3+ times and nothing has changed, they’re not right for the company. An individual could come in knowing nothing but with a huge ability and willingness to learn, and they would do incredibly well. On the other hand, someone who can’t take feedback and apply it won’t be able to grow with you.

  • They consistently overpromise and underdeliver.It should be the other way around. The top talent know that the best approach is to underpromise and overdeliver. If an employee is going on about all the amazing projects they’re going to accomplish but they keep falling short, that’s a strong reason to let them go.

  • He or she constantly creates more work for you.You hire people to save you time and money. If one of your team members is always pushing more on to your plate – whether inadvertently or advertently – it’s probably time to let them go. The best employees manage up and know it’s their job to lessen your workload so you can focus on high-level projects and new creative initiatives.

  • Their motto is “me, me, me.”If someone is constantly boasting, taking all the credit, or always trying to figure out how to get promoted and earn more money, that’s a big red flag… especially if they’re relatively new to the company. The top talent certainly voice their needs in respectful, tactful ways, but they shy away from boasting and trust they’ll be recognized for their great work.

  • You’ve received 3+ complaints about the employee.When you have someone on board who’s underperforming, it impacts other employees and hurts overall morale. Your other team members are going to notice, especially the A-players. It’s a good idea to take these complaints seriously, especially when you receive three or more of them.

  • They pull disappearing acts without warning.If you’re having trouble reaching someone on a regular basis, it’s a sign they don’t take the job seriously and don’t care that much about the success of the company. Being present – physically and mentally – is one of the most important characteristics of any team player.If someone is slow to respond to emails and calls, or is always giving themselves permission to work from home without approval, that’s a sure sign your company isn’t the right place for them.

  • They post personal outings on social media during office hours (not on lunch break), and/or when they’re “out sick.”

  • This sends a strong message that they don’t respect the company or the department. If someone blatantly displays they’re off-task at work or being dishonest about needing to stay home sick, it’s time for them to move on.

    Even if it’s the most challenging thing you do all year, right now, sit down and objectively evaluate any team members consistently disappointing you. Start thinking about your succession plan. Do you have another team member who can step up? Do you need to source talent outside the organization? Search firms are often tasked with confidential work when there is an underperformer in place to ensure a smooth transition.

    Do you have trouble letting employees go? Which part feels the most difficult?Share your thoughts with us – we can all learn from one another.

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