Know When to Say No – Part 3
Sophie Zollmann
September 3, 2021

Your team is a vital part of your business’s success, and hopefully you love each and every member of your team – but today, we’re going to talk about what needs to happen when you DON’T!

We’ve all been there! You bring somebody onboard with high hopes, but they just don’t live up to your expectations. Or, you have a team member who started off strong, but now their productivity and results are starting to lapse.

Nobody likes to let a team member go, but sometimes it has to be done. So, today we’re going to discuss the signs that a team member is no longer pulling their weight, and I’ll share some ideas on improving their performance. Unfortunately, improvement isn’t always an option, so we’ll also discuss the steps you should take to fire someone as painlessly as possible.

When you notice warning signs like decreased productivity, increased tardiness or absenteeism, and an overall lack of interest and drive to meet goals and advance the company, your first step should always be communication.

  • If you have a trusted worker that has suddenly hit a rut, find out why! Schedule a time to meet one-on-one, and simply ask them what’s going on. If your team member has always been a reliable hard-worker, chances are there is an outside source affecting their job performance. It could be a family problem, health issue, or countless other things. If you find that to be the case, talk to your team member about what they need to get through this difficult time.
  • If you’re dealing with an entitled team member with a bad attitude, you need to start with communication and documentation. First, you sit them down and let them know that there’s a problem. Keep your professionalism – state the issues you’ve noticed without letting your frustration get the best of you. Calmly discuss the problem and work together to create a performance improvement plan. The plan should define specific issues and provide detailed improvement goals and a timeline to achieve them. Schedule regular follow-up meetings and document everything.
  • Sometimes you might hire someone only to find that they don’t mesh well with your other team members. Obviously, the first step is communication, improvement plan, and so on – but what if you NEVER get them on the same page as the rest of your team? It’s not easy, but in most cases, you need to bite the bullet and let the outlier go. In order for your business to truly succeed, your team needs to work together like a well-oiled machine. If you’ve tried all of your improvement options, and they’re still not coming together as a team, it’s up to you to remove the problem.

If you’ve talked to your team member, created an improvement plan, and given them time to make the necessary adjustments, but they’re still not meeting expectations, you’re left with no other choice – you’ve got to let them go.

Look, it’s never going to be easy, but you can make it swift, professional, and drama free.

  • Start preparing for their exit before you meet with them. Make checklists for any company property that needs to be returned, arrange to get all pertinent passwords, and gather any necessary information on severance or insurance.
  • Give your IT support team a heads up so they can be prepared to disable access to email and company files or documents. They’ll be discreet but prepared to lock down accounts as needed.
  • Be straightforward – tell them your decision, no apologies, and wish them well in future endeavors. Be prepared for emotion but keep yours under control. Leave no room for negotiations – your decision is final.
  • Once it’s done, you’ll need to address your team. No need to tell them that the individual was fired – simply let them know that this person is no longer working at your company. Fill your team in on the transition plan. Let them know if you intend to hire a replacement and how the workload will be allocated in the interim.
  • Finally, follow up with your IT team to make sure passwords have been changed and accounts disabled as needed.

I hope you never find yourself in the position of firing a team member, but if you do, I want you to have the strategies you need to make it go as smoothly as possible. If you’d like more advice on handling a team member whose performance is lacking, tune in to this week’s episode of Building Your Empire with SophieZo.


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