When I started Laurel & Wolf, I got a lot of advice. Good advice, bad advice, crazy advice... but the one line that I heard over and over again was, "Hire slow, and fire fast." Although I understood the hiring slow part as you want to take your time making sure a candidate is the right fit for the business, I really struggled with firing people. It is clear and simple advice, yet following through with it is actually incredibly tough. It's like someone saying that ALL you need to do to get into good shape is to exercise regularly and eat well. You know it makes sense and it seems so easy but we all know it isn't. There are a lot of hard things I've learned along the way but letting people go has been the most difficult. Even when it's for the best, sometimes we drag our feet, not wanting to rock the boat, yet every time you put off making that tough call, you (or your managers) are jeopardizing the future of the company.
Here are a few things I've learned that make this tough lesson a little easier:
Trust your gut. When you know something isn't right, address the concerns immediately. If they still feel off, then have a clear conversation about what can be done to improve the situation. However, if after giving feedback things haven't improved, then it's probably not a fit. I've found that my instinct is usually correct and some of the biggest mistakes I've made in life have come from ignoring those feelings.
It's not personal, it's business. Some of the greatest mistakes I made in keeping inefficient or ineffective people on my team came from the fact that I liked them. I confused caring about someone personally with focusing on the needs of an organization. In reality, if someone isn't thriving in their work then they probably aren't happy. You certainly are not going to overcome the tough obstacles you face in a startup with a team that isn't right for the job. Nobody wins by keeping someone on simply because you like them.
Once you make the decision, pull the trigger. Just like anything in life, the longer something bad lingers, the harder it is to deal with it. Ever had to break bad news to a friend or a loved one and couldn't figure out how to do it? And then the longer you waited, the weirder it got? It's like your mom's advice about the Band-Aid - you just have to rip it off. It may really sting for a minute but it's better than letting the hurt linger as you slowly peel it off.