Leadership is a tough responsibility and it needs someone who is ready to pay the price for it to succeed.
As a business leader or a departmental leader at the workplace, you will be tasked with many and crucial decision making opportunities that will decide the destiny of not only your business but also your people.
One of the most difficult calls a business leader will have to make is the decision to fire a staff. This is a soul crushing encounter to any person. It carries so much weight. It is because of the weighty nature of such a decision that makes it very important for any leader to consider the following factors before pulling the trigger on an employee.
1. You have clearly communicated poor performance issues with the employee multiple times and documented it as well
As a leader you will need to uphold the science of reward and punishment by being forthright with your staff on both good and poor performance. Anytime you notice a particular employee is not delivering to their level best, be prompt to take action by talking to them about the situation. Always document and let the employee know you are documenting your performance conversations.
After all the conversation has been done with little or no improvement, then it is a clear sign that it could just be time.
Never surprise an employee by firing them when you never had any performance discussions prior to making that decision.
If you ever doubt whether you have communicated sufficiently with the underperforming staff or not, then the rule of thumb is you did not.
2. You have offered support on numerous occasions to the staff
Talking about poor performance with staff is one a good step but not the final one. Sometimes the staff might be struggling to understand what you said to them or even to know how to come out of the pit of poor performance. It calls for your support as a leader.
This is a great show of humility any leader can demonstrate toward his/her staff.
If on a number of occasions you have gone ahead and offered the necessary support to your under performing employee with little success, then it may be fair to consider the tough call.
3. You have sought a second opinion from other leaders about the employee
There is always power and a unique perspective in second opinions.
As a leader when you feel you have an employee who is not living to the promise courtesy of point 1 & 2, then still be patient. Go out of your way and seek a second opinion from another leader of a department or possibly from HR. You could also talk to some of the leaders in the workplace who work closely or are internal clients to the services offered by that particular employee.
This should be done in utmost confidence to safeguard the employee’s reputation.
What an outside perspective does is to help you see the decision you are about to make through the lenses of fairness and objectivity.
If the second opinion matches your plans and in line with the first two points then gain the courage to call a spade a spade.
4. You have scrutinized all other potential reasons for poor performance
Poor performance could be as a result of many factors.
- Is the poor performer well equipped for the role?
- Is he/she having some family constraints or other factors beyond the office?
- Were the roles and the KPI’s defined well at the beginning of the review period?
As a leader, make sure you put all the above factors into consideration prior to making that tough call of sending away your employee.