Of all the things Pat and I have had to do in our landscape lighting business, one of the hardest has been to let people go. I can’t think of a more uncomfortable responsibility we have as leaders, and I think it’s one of the biggest issues that business owners struggle with. Since 2014, our thoughts on firing have been shaped by the training we’ve received through Infusionsoft’s Elite Forum. If you’ve spent any time around me, you know I talk about them a lot.
They’ve helped us learn how to integrate our purpose and core values into every aspect of how we run our landscape lighting business, including how we determine who we fire and how we fire. The task of firing becomes much easier once you’ve pinned down your purpose and core values. But how do you actually prepare for and accomplish the task itself?
In her webinar, “Firing for the Vision,” Infusionsoft’s Cindy Eagar lays out how to set your employees up for success and how to determine when they need to be let go.
Set Expectations Up Front
Your employees should know upfront what successful performance looks like. Cindy defines performance as “results plus values.” When you lay out your expectations and your company’s core values, your employees will know how they can excel at their job, and you will know how to best coach them and hold them accountable.
An employee’s performance can vary across what Cindy calls the “performance continuum.” Either they’re performing well or underperforming, but the coaching they require will depend on where exactly they fall on the continuum. For example, an employee in our landscape lighting business who is underperforming will need different coaching than an employee who has been poorly performing for a month.
If an employee continues to underperform, even after you’ve coached them and allowed them time to improve, they need to be fired. Firing does not need to be a long, drawn-out conversation. Cindy says it can be done in 3 sentences: “As you know, we’ve had conversations about your performance. We have not seen the progress needed for success in this role. Therefore, we have decided to terminate your employment, effective immediately.”
Provide Balanced Communication
Once your employee has been fired, you need to tell the rest of your team as soon as possible. Be upfront and let them know that you had been coaching the individual who was fired, but his or her performance expectations were not met. This shows your team that you’re willing to put in the effort to help each of them succeed up until the day they leave the company.
But What If You’re A Small Business?
For small business owners, it can be incredibly hard to make the decision to fire that one team member, especially if that individual accounts for 25% of your company’s workforce. Working in our landscape lighting company, I’ve been there before, and it’s not a comfortable position to be in. You’re worried about having to do their job and finding another person who can replace them. However, putting in the extra work after they’ve been let go will pay dividends down the road. The short term effects of firing may be painful, but it’s best for your company in the long run.
As a small business ourselves, making the right decisions in hiring and firing has strengthened us for the better. You can learn more about our dedicated team here.