Letting Go - Recognizing the Time to Replace an Employee

Lasting leaders pay attention to their human capital because they recognize that those people investments are a key reason they consistently outperform the market.

Sometimes the people working for us become disengaged and ineffective, and we as leaders have two outcomes to choose from: reengage them or replace them. Recognizing when it's time to let someone go is a difficult part of our work as leaders but a necessary one, as all of our people must be good fits in order for us to be optimally successful.

When is it time to let go? What signs or clues can we see that will lead us to this outcome over the other? 

First and foremost, you owe it to your associate and yourself to attempt to reengage the employee before moving to termination. Coaching, support, goals, and a plan for improvement should be tried. During the period of re-engagement, look for some of the following worrisome signs that things may not work out in the end:

  • Continued decline in performance: If your employee isn't doing better with the work after you've added the extra support it may be that this person just isn't cut out for the job.
  • Spreading like wildfire: As described in an article on the subject in Forbes, one problem employee can quickly turn into multiple problem employees. If your other team members are burdened with extra work or being infected by negativity from the struggling employee, it's probably best to cut ties.
  • Lack of enthusiasm: Your employees need to feel passionate about the work they do and show some enthusiasm. If your associate just doesn't seem to care anymore, that individual probably doesn't care anymore and it's probably time to part ways.
  • The Net Effect: Stephanie Kaplan of Her Campus Media says that you should look at the net effect of the employee. As a whole, does having the person in your organization help or hurt the company?

Most managers I have worked with hesitate to replace team members because they keep hoping that they will come around. Stop hoping and know.

When you invest serious time in an associate's development, you will know, and the employee himself may even recognize when he is not the best fit.

Have you had to fire an employee? What signs made it clear to you that it was time? Share your experiences in the comment section below.

Be Encouraged,