How to let an employee go: A guide for business leaders (free PDF)

Letting a team member go can be a tough call—and an unpleasant process. This ebook offers some tips to help you decide if termination is the best course of action and how to make it as painless for everyone as possible.

From the ebook:

One of the hardest tasks leaders and managers must face is dismissing a team member. Most times this is a nuanced decision, and it’s easy to let personal considerations or market influences cloud an already-difficult decision. With low unemployment, the prospect of an arduous search for a replacement might further muddy the waters and cause you to keep someone around even longer.

Outside clear cases of legal, ethical, or grossly negligent acts on the part of the employee, these decisions are rarely easy; however, a few guidelines can help determine when to dismiss a team member. Here are some questions to consider.

Have you given them a chance?
The first stop for addressing performance problems should always be that person’s manager. It’s unreasonable to dismiss an employee, outside of an obvious incident, if the expectations and performance standards of their position haven’t been well-articulated. A major performance problem could be as simple as that employee not understanding expectations or focusing on areas that aren’t important, as they haven’t been given the proper guidance by leadership.

However, there’s a limit to the number of interventions that leadership can provide. If the same types of challenges continue to occur, ask yourself whether that individual understands their role and the associated performance expectations. This might just mean asking them to articulate, in their own words, what they’re responsible for and to explain how they’re meeting those objectives. If there’s a gap in understanding that can be clarified, and this isn’t the sixth time you’ve addressed similar concerns, clearly state expectations and near- and mid-term goals, ensure that the employee understands how to meet those goals, and provide another chance. If you’ve done this multiple times and there’s seems to be an inability to grasp those expectations—or an inability or unwillingness to perform at the expected level—it’s time to move on.

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