Ep #23: How to Know When to, and Not to, Fire a Team Member

 In Podcast

Here are the basics you have to have in place in order to know when to fire a team member and when NOT to fire a team member.

What you’ll find in this episode:

  1. #1 – Set clear expectations.
  2. #2 – Review their work.
  3. #3 – Give them feedback.
  4. The way you know it’s time to fire is you’ve set the expectations, you’ve reviewed their work and given them the feedback and they’re just not meeting the objectives of the role.
  5. The way you know it’s not time to fire is when you’re bent out of shape and in total judgement.

Featured on the Show and Other Notes:


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Podcast Transcript

Hey everyone. I’m Kris Plachy and this is how to lead for female entrepreneurs and founders because the best way to grow a business is to grow the person who’s running it. Let’s go ahead and get started.

Hello, how are you today? Thanks for tuning in. So today I want to talk to you about how to know when to fire someone and when to not fire someone. This is a very common, perplexing experience for all of my clients and frankly, including myself. I say in a really high voice. I’ve had my own recent challenges in this space. So I thought, well let’s do this. So I’m actually going to do two podcasts. This one is how to know when to fire someone or not to fire someone, and then my next podcast is going to be who to fire versus who to develop, who to invest in.

I also know that can be very perplexing, like should I be spending time with them or should I just be firing them? So I’m going to do that one on the next podcast. So when we talk about how to know when to fire someone or when to not fire someone, I believe and have taught for years, and this is the work I do with every single one of my clients, you have to have first in order to be able to answer that question, how to know when to fire someone. You have to have some basics in place. Now, I recently did a free webinar about how to know if it’s you, if you’re the problem or if the team members the problem.

So if somebody is not performing, how do you know if it’s you or them? And that is it’s actually still available. If you just go to krisplachy.com/freecourse, you’ll have ability to access the replay of the course. But what I talk about in that podcast are the six key elements that you have to have in place to really be able to assess from an objective perspective what’s happening with somebody’s performance and get yourself out of the way. So if you haven’t listened to that, I really want to encourage you to take a few minutes and do that.

I think it’ll be incredibly helpful, and it’ll put some of what our conversation today is in even more context. And frankly, if you have an employee right now that you just are like, I don’t know what to do, this stuff that I’m going to be telling you in the webinar and then a little bit here on this podcast, it really could change everything for you. So take a moment and listen. Okay. So in order to know when to fire someone and also if you shouldn’t be firing them, you have to have basics in place. And my mom used to tell me about cooking, and she always used to talk about how you needed to have basics in the pantry.

You just always had to have certain basics. Now, my mom always made a certain kind of food and so she had basics. These were the things that you could always have in your pantry and frankly always in your fridge. And then you could always make a meal. She thought you needed to always have canned tomatoes and tomato sauce and oregano and basil and Italian seasoning and hamburger meat and onions and some garlic, and then you could always make some spaghetti. So you need to have noodles, pasta in the pantry. You always needed to have olive oil.

You always needed to have some wine vinegar because that was her favorite, first of all, salad dressing with some dill and salt and pepper. So there were always these key seasonings, foundational pieces in the kitchen that for her meant no matter what, I can always whip together a meal, if I have the basics. And I feel like that’s true for us and those of us who run a business, we just have to have these basics in place. And because you’ve been so busy building your business and just trying to keep up, like having the revenue sometimes get over your skis.

You’re making more money than you have the ability of time to hire the people and teach the people to do what you needs to be done that you haven’t developed these foundations and that’s okay. It’s just that now if you’re sitting there kind of like how do I know if this person should be here or not, it can feel a little overwhelming because you don’t really have the tools to assess that. So I’m going to give you a few of those as a heads up. So how do we know? First of all, we have to know that we’ve set clear expectations.

Now in the free course that I just mentioned, I go into this a little more in depth, but we have to have told people what we expect of them, not just from a job perspective. So do you have a job description? Have you outlined goals for them and do you have expectations related to their behavior? But so all of those things go together. And so the gut check I want you to do first is have I been clear? Have I really been clear? Now, you might think you’ve been clear, but you probably haven’t. If you’re new at this gig, we just have this knack for thinking people can read our minds and know what we mean by that.

Doesn’t everybody know what I mean by that? No, they don’t. So we have to be super clear about what we expect. So the first step I would just take with you if we were having this as a conversation is let’s just really dissect the expectations that you’ve set. I want to know what they are and I want to know that if I’m not in your business and I’m brand new to your business, can I understand them? Now, the other thing that I think you should think about is that what I’m talking through on this podcast, you could apply to a brand new employee or an employee that you’ve honestly had on the team for years.

Because sometimes employees are great and then they aren’t anymore. Or sometimes we … Well, this is probably not even sometimes, this is more like. And we grow, we change, our business grows and it calls on us to grow. And as that happens, we realize like, this person that I have on my team is no longer really supporting the success of my team. So it’s not that even that you’ve changed, that the person is not delivered. It’s not like they’re not a great employee. It’s just that the job and the company have changed and they’re no longer delivering.

So at any given time, whether someone’s brand new or someone’s been on the team forever, you can reset expectations. But what I always think you need to do is if you’re going to reset expectations, then you have to do that work yourself first and then you have to make them an offer. Here’s what the job is, here’s what I expect of you in the job, here’s what I expect that you’re going to contribute because you’re in this job. Do you want the job? Like just reconnect and reset a clear expectation with them, so that now we’re on the same page.

The second thing we have to make sure we’re doing is reviewing their work. What I see so many of my clients do is they don’t really pay a lot of attention until they have to pay attention and then as soon as they pay attention, they are like appalled. What’s happening here? Why is it look like this? What? What? Right? So you kind of lose your mind. You have to be really, really engaged with what they produce and how they do, what they put into your business. Now eventually, you may get to a place where certain people in your company are more strategic, and that’s okay.

That means maybe they don’t require as much oversight. Doesn’t mean we’re not still meeting with them and reviewing their performance regularly, but it might not be quite as detailed. But especially when someone’s new or when they’re taking on something new, we have to be all in this way. So I really want you to do a gut check here. Have you been checking their work? Have you been really evaluating what they’re doing? And then do you give them feedback? And when we give feedback, we have to tell people not just, hey, you need to do this over, it’s not great, or hey, great job.

We have to tell them like, why was it great, what did you love about it, or what isn’t right about it. And the more we do that, the more we sort of normalize feedback. We make it so that it’s not so painful. Most of us are not good at receiving feedback. We don’t want to hear it. I think all of us at some point are still like, oh gosh, they’re going to tell me something I don’t want to hear. You cringe a little. I’ve gotten enough feedback in my life that I know I can handle any feedback that comes my way, but it’s still like, okay, wait, what?

I have to sort out like what’s their opinion about me versus what’s really in there that I can grab onto that’s factual or circumstantial that I think matters that I can apply. But if I personalize feedback every time I get it, I’m just a mess. And I know that that’s how most people respond to feedback and that’s why I know you don’t want to give feedback because you know you don’t like getting feedback, so you don’t want to give it because you know what it feels like. So but the more we give feedback, the more we practice doing that in our business and helping people understand this is just part of what we do, the easier it’s going to be to know when to fire someone.

Because you’ve been giving them feedback and they’re not applying it, so that’s the key. So you set expectations, but they’re not meeting them. You review their work and you give feedback, but they’re not making any changes. And then they’re just not meeting the objectives of the position. You don’t hire people to be an employer. You guys have heard me say this before. You are not hiring people to be an employer. You are hiring people so that your business can thrive. Everybody who works in a business is there to ensure the success of the business.

This is not, I mean, maybe I’m wrong, but I haven’t met a client yet who said, oh, I couldn’t wait to start a business so I could be an employer. You started a business so you could deliver your whatever into the world and then you got to a point where it was big enough that you needed help. And so then you hire people to extend the ability of your company. That is why they are there. So anytime you’ve hired and asset to help your business thrive and that asset is not delivering on the improved performance of your company, then that is not okay.

I want you to have an intolerance for that. Not in a you turn into a total tool with your employees kind of way, but in a wait a minute, I’m not maximizing this asset in my business, and I want you to. So it’s not about them being the problem. It’s about you recognizing like, wait, what can I do better different here? Not tolerating poor performance. It’s not okay. I think about you because I need the proverbial you after you’ve been in business for six years and you’re haggard and you’re beat up because you didn’t learn how to lead and manage your team.

And now you’re exhausted and you don’t even have a clue how to figure out who’s the right person to hire, how to fire them, how to manage them. I think about that woman who’s about to quit, who’s about to give up, who’s about to sell her company, who’s about to just cash out. And it’s because she didn’t do this and she didn’t develop this separation and this understanding between her, her business and her employees. So the way that we know that it’s time to fire is when we have been clear about what we expect of every role in our business and then we hold people accountable.

The way we know we should not fire is when you’re all bent about it. You’re in total judgment. You say things like they should know better there. Why do I have to explain everything? Can’t they just figure this out? Why is this so difficult? Isn’t this common sense? No, it’s not. Nobody works as hard as I do around here. You know what, you’re right. Because you know why, it’s your business. So stop expecting that. So the thoughts that I watch people have around employees who are not performing or not delivering are actually preventing them from being better leaders of that particular employee because they are just so caught up in their own judgment.

And then you’re irritated and you’re annoyed and you avoid them or you talk about them when you gossip with someone else instead of just doing the things that I’ve just told you. Performance is just math, you guys, and it certainly is not an opinion. Performance is not an opinion. I’ve said that more times than I can count. Performance is just math. It’s not personal. So we know it is not time to fire someone if you are all bent on a shape about them. That means that your brain is assigning all sorts of meaning to their behaviors and their results that are irrelevant to the dialogue.

What’s relevant to the conversation with an employee is what they did and how it impacts the business. Not what they did and why did you do it and why would you think that way and why would you take advantage of me like that and I pay you this much money, you should know better. Like all of that kind of thinking, you got to chuck it. It is not serving you. So look, I know because I’ve been you and frankly I still am you, but I’ve led big teams and small teams and one person teams and I appreciate how hard it is.

I have been doing this for 25 years and I recently just lost my mind when I hired someone and needed, desperately needed coaching. I called my coach Brooke Castillo and said, please coach me Kris Plachy style. I need some leadership coaching and I do this for a living, you all. You’ve got to stop thinking you should know better and you should be able to figure this out on your own. I don’t think it comes to us naturally, especially as women, right? We’re sort of built to be nurturing and loving and create the tribe and make sure everybody’s fed.

Like that’s very counterintuitive to when you have an employee who’s not performing and you want to kick them out of the tribe and you don’t know if they’re going to get fed. So I think every female entrepreneur who’s making money and building a business, and I think every single one of you should have a coach. And of course, I think every single one of you should be working with me because I know I can totally help you. But you’re not alone for as long as you want to know that you’re not alone and that the challenges you’re facing are real.

But there’s real solutions. They’re not … It’s not super complicated, but there is some work in here. It’s a little bit of a bridge we’ve got to walk over to get you these skills so that this process feels a lot less overwhelming. And then the red flags go up for you, or the white flags maybe, you surrender very less often than they probably do now, if that’s where you are in your business and you’re growing a team. So as a reminder, how do you know? You know when to fire someone when you’ve set the expectations, you’ve reviewed their work, you’ve given them the feedback, and they’re just not meeting the objectives of the role.

We don’t fire people when we’re in a swirl, when we’re annoyed, when our emotions are very attached to their outcomes, and when we have all sorts of thoughts about who they should be versus who they are. That’s not when we fire. That’s not a good reason to fire. And frankly, it’s a risky reason to fire. Right? You’ve got to be very thoughtful about how you go through the process of releasing an asset from your business. So I want you to really, please go to the free course krisplachy.com free course. Do it. Do the course.

Listen again to this podcast as many times as you need to, and then I’d love for you to come and work with me in my personal coaching program. I’m always excited about meeting new clients, and I love to meet my podcast listeners. So when you’re ready, I’m here. I have a great day.

Hey, don’t miss a thing. Make sure you join my community at krisplachy.com/connect. Once you join, you’ll get all the information on exclusive and private experiences that I’m offering to my clients. I can’t wait to see you there.

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