Blog Performance Staff Management

Letting an Employee Go

Have you ever struggled with letting an employee go or working to keep them.

You might spend hours, days or even weeks in emotional discussions with business leaders trying to understand how to get various employees to acceptable levels of performance, but to no avail. This article focuses on providing a clear framework to diagnose whether you have an opportunity to fix a less-than-ideal employee performance situation or whether more drastic measures are needed.

With the current employee shortage it is always tempting to retain every employee possible rather than letting an employee go. However, the retention of one weak link can cause ramifications that may become detrimental to the entire team or business. Thus, it is always better to remove these weaker links because the cost of retention will always be higher than the modest void an exited employee will create in the short term.  

Step 1 for Letting an Employee Go – Core Values

Deciding who is worth the effort to retain versus those better removed is actually quite easy when you approach the decision-making in a well-proven way. The first step to letting an employee go is to measure the employee in question against your company’s Core Values. 

This will be difficult if you have not developed well-established core values to promote and demote team members. But thankfully it is never too late to start. If you understand the necessity of Core Values and how they work within organisations but you have yet to implement this strategy into your company, put this article aside and spend the time necessary to implement them effectively. You will be grateful you did and it will always be time well spent for long-term gain.

If you have identified your company’s Core Values then ask yourself how frequently you observe the employee in question embodying them using a criterion of Frequently, Sometimes or Never.  For an employee to align with your organisation there shouldn’t be any Nevers, with a mix of Sometimes and Frequently. It can be personally confronting to exit your first employee using Core Values as a decision-making process but when you see the impact on the rest of the remaining team you will realise that your decision of letting an employee go was wholly justified.   

Step 2 for Letting an Employee Go – Ability

After you determine whether the employee in question aligns with your Core Values, the next step is to identify whether they have the ability to deliver what is required in their position or seat. In order to do this both objectively and effectively, it is important to have the employee’s position or role well defined. For this, three things should be addressed:

  1. What are the position’s key deliverables? This explains ‘why’ this position exists and how you know it is being done well.  
  2. What are the main activities for the position? This should provide insights into what the person does for much of their time.
  3. What are the main Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for the position? This will avoid any doubt in what the expected level of activity and performance needs to be within the role.

With this review of the employee’s position in hand you are now ready to evaluate your employee by asking yourself three questions:

  1. Do they fully Understand their position? Often times there can be a fundamental misunderstanding regarding what is important about a position versus what is simply ‘nice to have.’ When you have a clearly-defined role as described above this is less likely, but most businesses don’t do a great job of defining in writing what is critical about a role – the position’s key deliverables. If you have any doubt whether they fully understand the position you need to invest some time in ensuring this is not the issue.
  2. Do they have the Capacity to perform at a level that is required for the position?  Although one could use sophisticated cognitive assessments to determine this for some roles, typically you as a business leader can often get a good impression simply by asking yourself this question. By answering yes to Question One you know they understand what is expected of them, now it comes down to whether they have the skills, disciplines or time management capabilities to do so. If the answer is no then the employee is likely not a fit for that position and you either need to redefine their position or consider letting an employee go.
  3. Do they have the Desire to perform the necessary activities required for the position?  Up to this point you have confirmed they both understand and have the capacity to do what is necessary to be successful within the position, the question is whether they want to. This is an important final hurdle to clarify because people can get tired of things that they are really good at. Problems answering this question in the affirmative require collaborative discussions with the employee to find a win/win, potentially adapting their job description in order to keep them enthusiastic and motivated while still fulfilling the original role. These types of challenges can often be resolved quite easily if diagnosed and addressed early on. Often times a great employee leaves a company without warning with an explanation that they became bored and wanted to find new opportunities.
Letting an Employee Go
[Click image to download]

Company culture and your core values aren’t just common topics in the pages of business management books, they are well-proven strategies for growing strong and profitable companies. Clearly defined position descriptions aren’t simply an HR requirement, they should help you and your employees clearly understand what is required of a role and how to measure whether a staff member is fulfilling that role proficiently.

Letting an employee go is never easy, but by following this process to assess your employees we are confident you will develop a happier and more productive team.

Enjoy the process!

Discover More Blogs From Better Execute:

Blog Performance Staff Management

The Value in Asking for Help

The Value in Asking for Help

If you are like most of us you are not a big fan of asking for help. 

Although you might utilise this strategy in an effort to cultivate creativity, research shows that not asking for help is most often our default reaction, rather than a choice, due to a fear of possible rejection or disappointment. 

This article’s aim is to remind us of our choice and bring attention it some of the limiting beliefs many of us have developed over the years around asking others for help.

To be clear, I am a recovering addict of self-sufficiency. Amanda Palmer’s book, The Art of Asking helped shine a light into a corner of my emotional world I had been keeping partitioned off since childhood. 

In the spirit of keeping this article short, one big idea on this topic of asking for help is to realise that we have wrongly associated asking for help with vulnerability and rejection. 

Misunderstanding Asking for Help

We’ve mistakenly learned to ask for help from a belief that the person we are asking holds the power in the exchange. So the request is coming from a position of shame or weakness rather than a more empowered mindset.

On the flip side, at other times we have asked for help coming from a point of expectation which happens when we feel power over another person. This often results in a feeling of disappointment in the asking process and possible resentment on their part.

The reality is that asking for help should be seen as a collaboration between two parties where both can receive value in the exchange. This type of asking can come from a place of respect, one that focuses on helping one another where there is no judgment tied to the outcome. There is a request and a response that becomes mutually beneficial for, or at least equally appreciated by both parties. 

Whether help is ultimately given in the common form of time or money is immaterial. Sometimes people will decide to help and other times they won’t feel able to. What matters is whether you are approaching the request from a place of respect and that you remain open to whatever choice the person makes.

Asking for Help in Business

So what can this concept of asking look like in business? Obvious examples can be seen in sales. You likely know some salespeople who don’t ask their customers to buy their products and services out of fear of rejection. Others set their expectations of their customers far too high, inevitably leading to disappointment. Whichever perspective they may take, most salespeople could improve their ability to have win/win interactions with customers where they share what is important to them and elicit similar insights from the customers. 

This skill of asking for help reaches far beyond sales, applying to all aspects of company dynamics. How about a boss asking a direct request for help on a project? Often the boss doesn’t want to be disappointed in the employee so they never ask in the first place. This can lead to the mentality of “if you want something done right, do it yourself”, which in turn can create frustration, annoyance and sheer exhaustion. Other bosses might not want to inconvenience the other team member because they are already busy or there may be fear around looking incompetent or admitting one’s own shortcomings. 

All these scenarios don’t end as well as if the boss were simply to be open and able to ask for help in a collaborative and respectful way. At the very least, they demonstrate their humanity to another team member and likely gain more goodwill with them even when no help can be given. Others may result in the boss receiving some additional and unexpected support. 

How to Ask for Help

To be clear, just asking for help isn’t good enough because when it is done poorly it is often detrimental to relationships, appearing demanding and irresponsible. Our opportunity here is to gain more courage in receiving what we really want and need by asking for help in a way where that creates value for both parties with a lack of judgement on the outcome. Respecting a person’s willingness to help, regardless of the effectiveness and ultimate results of that assistance, is the first step to a stronger, mutually accepted relationship.

So get out there and ask people for what you really want. Just be sure you do it in a collaborative and respectful way!

And until next time, enjoy the process!

Discover More Blogs From Better Execute: