Part 3 | Firing
Firing is one of the most important skills you can develop as an entrepreneur. It is also one of the most lucrative things you can do for your business. This is why we want to spend an entire module talking about it.
Two Reasons to Fire Someone
There are two reasons why you may end up having to fire someone and when you take full responsibility for both, it makes firing a much more powerful experience.
The first reason is because you hired poorly. This is why we want you to spend as much time and energy as possible to get good at hiring. But you will make hiring mistakes and if you aren’t willing to admit those mistakes and fire people, you will end up with a culture that doesn’t function well.
The second reason is if you’re super successful. As your organization grows, your employees need to grow with it—if not, then they need to be let go. Most organizations don’t go through and reconsider all of their employee base every single year. Those that have reached their capacity ceiling will drag your business down.
Why You Need to Fire People
You will be afraid to fire people. You will think you’re mean, that you’re letting people down. The business will always tell the truth. The business needs high performing, high delivering resources. The humans in your business are the biggest asset and resource. You need to always be assessing how well your assets are contributing to the results you want.
Large corporations are more casual about this, but if you have less than 200 employees, you don’t have time to develop and hold onto people. If they can’t keep up for three months then they’ve got to go. It’s not fair to your organization or to you to hold onto them. Your alliance is not to your team members, it’s to your business.
One of the most common things we hear is, “If I let them go, it’s going to affect the team. Morale’s going to go down.” The truth is that it doesn’t affect the team negatively.
When to Fire
Here is what you need to do. Every year, you should rehire everyone in your mind. You need to look at every single employee and ask yourself, “Would I hire them again for this job?” They may not have done anything bad, but if they’re not doing a great job and if you brought someone else in that could do a better job, then you let that good person go.
At The Life Coach School our employees need to be great. They need to be at full capacity and grow with the business. Many times we sit down with an employee and say, “You haven’t done anything wrong and you’ve followed my expectations well, except that we’ve up-leveled and you’re not keeping up.” This is a good enough reason to fire someone. They don’t have to make a huge mistake. This is why everyone who works at The Life Coach School is great.
Your employees need to continuously earn their job. There is no such thing as tenure. There is no guarantee and it’s important for the employees to know this.
How to Fire Someone
The first step is taking 100% responsibility for either not hiring well, or for growing the business beyond their capacity. We recommend to not give specific reasons as to why you are letting them go. The time for telling them about performance is when you are holding them accountable to their results. The reason is as simple as, “It’s not working out anymore.”
Less is more when letting someone go. It should not be a long meeting. There is no coaching that happens when you fire people, no feedback. This is not going to be easy. And it’s not supposed to be easy. Because it’s disappointing. But before you go into this conversation, separate the person from the job. They are still a great person, but them working at the organization is not working.
You also want to allow for whatever reaction they might have. If you try and control their reaction, you become weird and creepy. Let them have whatever reaction they want. Sometimes you will give them a 30 day warning—you’ve told them things aren’t working out, and they’re still going to be completely shocked.
It’s important to know that firing doesn’t happen out of the blue. We give 30 day alerts to our employees unless they’ve done something inappropriate or violent. Usually it’s like, “We have 30 days to figure this out. Here’s my expectation. Here’s what needs to happen within those 30 days. Here’s what I need from you. Here’s what our communication needs to look like.” And if they meet the expectation, then we come back together and determine whether it was good enough or whether they need to be let go.
When you fire someone they need to leave the exact same day. You can give them severance if you want, but keeping them in your organization when you’ve already let them go never works out well. Then you take your onboarding process and turn it into an off boarding process. Take them off all the software, and remove their access. Just keep it super simple and super clean. You really need a process for this because it takes the emotion out of it.
One question we get a lot is how to communicate that you’ve fired someone to the team. We recommend if your business is small, to communicate to everyone privately that someone has been let go. No details, but making sure they understand that this didn’t just happen randomly, and that it wasn’t a shock to the employee who got fired. It’s simply “So-and-so isn’t going to be here anymore. And here’s how we’re planning to reassign their projects.”
The last note is that you will want to give yourself a minute after letting someone go to process it. It’s a difficult and emotional thing. You need to congratulate yourself for doing the hard work of being a mature entrepreneur, but you also need to be tender with yourself.