5 Signs It’s Time to Let an Employee Go

October 21st, 2016 Comments off
Fired businessman packing personal desk items in box

No small business owner wants to go through the draining experience of firing a worker. Not only is such a situation emotionally taxing, it leaves you short-handed and faced with the burden of finding a replacement. Thus, leaders oftentimes avoid taking action in hopes that the problem employee will somehow turn things around.

Prolonging the agony, however, can have major repercussions on everything from productivity to morale at your small business. So when is it time to face the music and do what needs to be done? Here’s how to know for sure when you must let someone go.

The work isn’t getting done: The growth of a small business depends on each team member pulling his or her weight. An individual repeatedly failing to meet expectations cannot be allowed to continue. Take notice, too, of overall staff productivity. Chances are high it also is suffering; others have difficulty performing their best when a co-worker’s input is late or requires multiple revisions. Similarly, staff members may not have as much motivation to do well when they witness poor performers still receiving a paycheck.

The employee doesn’t respond to your efforts: Sometimes a worker simply needs extra guidance to get on track. Before dismissing someone, most small business leaders will try measures such as training, feedback, mentorship, and formal performance improvement plans. But if an employee snubs suggestions, refuses to fill in learning gaps, or offers more excuses than effort, you’re left with little choice but to cut ties.

Others are complaining: Take note immediately when customers or vendors express dissatisfaction with an employee’s attitude or performance. Inaction will leave them questioning your leadership skills. Seriously consider the risk of the person at fault jeopardizing your reputation and your livelihood.

Morale has dropped: Members of your staff likely have plenty of thoughts on a lackluster colleague. Some may choose to share information with you; others may feel uncomfortable or worry they’ll be seen as a tattle-tale. Do some observing or even a survey to judge what might be going on. Better to discover now that people are tired of picking up slack or dealing with office drama than when they hand in their own resignations.

You’re wasting time: Lastly, remember that every minute is a precious commodity for a small business owner juggling multiple obligations. Evaluate how much time you (and others on staff) spend trying to get this person up to par and dealing with fallout from his or her behavior. Might this time be better spent doing other tasks to help the company grow? An honest answer should confirm what you need to do next.


Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.