A bit of logic and your gut feelings tell you it's time to fire an underperforming employee, but your emotions and lack of time keep you from taking action. You're not the only one. Many entrepreneurs struggle with this decision and delay the inevitable, causing unnecessary strain on themselves, their employees, customers, and certainly on company revenues.

If you have a team member who is frequently late, doesn't do the job well, is apathetic, or creates conflict, holding on to them is not a good choice. Once you've done everything within your power to coach and train them, it's time to cut the ties.

A single underperformer can have a devastating effect on a company. Yet, more often than not, small business owners choose to delay the inevitable based on these emotional factors.

1. No time to find and train a replacement.

Having a poorly performing on the team is a time and energy suck. If you believe you don't have the time to find and train a new employee, you're kidding yourself. Sure, it can be a daunting task, but once you make up your mind and focus on improving your team you'll feel energized again. It will also buy you more time since your energies can go elsewhere once the process is complete. 

2. The employee is a nice person, which makes firing them difficult.

Underperforming employees aren't always lazy, apathetic, or emotionally unhealthy; they may be nice, caring people who just don't have the skill or talent for the job. Nice or not, if an employee is not capable of an A-grade performance, you are doing them and your company a disservice by holding on to them. They are well aware of their ineffectiveness and it most likely concerns and stresses them. If it does not make sense to move them into a position more suitable to their abilities, you've got to let go.

3. Conflict avoidance.

Managers often imagine and fret over conversations that rarely take place during the firing process. It's rare that an employee argues and threatens, but yes, on occasion, they may become emotional to some degree. If you feel conflicted before, during, or after the conversation, just know that it will be short-lived.

4. Hoping the employee's performance will improve.

This one is easy. If you've trained, mentored, and allowed sufficient time for improvement, it's not going to happen.

5. They feel guilty for not offering better support.

Unfortunately, many small business owners fall short in the area of employee training. The time and money you invest in documenting your systems and processes, the more time and money you'll have in the end. If you have truly neglected proper training, you can still remedy the problem. Just one warning: don't confuse your shortcomings with theirs.

5 reasons to fire an employee now.

Ready to set aside the delays and excuses? If not, perhaps facing the negative consequences of putting this off will change your mind.

1. Your finances are suffering.

Efficiency is paramount to success. An underperforming employee, no matter what their job is, always has a negative impact on revenues. Even if their role is not client-facing, this employee is slowing things down somewhere.

2. It's harming your company culture.

No matter the circumstances, if someone is not carrying their weight without consequence it sends a negative message to the other employees. While the impact may not be immediate, you will see a change in attitude and sometimes in the performance of the other team members.

3. You may not realize it, but the stress is damaging your performance as well.

Entrepreneurs complain of a lack of time when in reality it's more about time management and lack of energy. While your brain is capable of compartmentalizing, the burden of knowing there's a decision to make and act upon weighs heavily on your mind. This depletes your physical and emotional energy, therefore slows you down. It's best to get it done with now. You will notice an improvement in your stress levels and performance.

4. Your customers notice and may leave because of it.

Whether your employee means well and tries to properly serve your customers, or they are downright inept, customers will demonstrate only so much loyalty. Poor customer service reflects on you as a leader and can diminish the respect that others have for you. Also, mistakes cost money--yours and that of your customer.

5. Holding on is unfair to everyone, even the soon-to-be-fired employee.

You may feel sorry for them, they may be a nice person--whatever. The most overlooked fact is that the employee is more likely to find happiness and self-worth when they find a job that is more suited to their abilities. In my experience, when a well-adjusted individual no longer has to struggle through their workday, they land on their feet. Delaying the inevitable is not fair to you, your other employees, or the employee who needs to go.

Published on: May 21, 2018