by Matt Thomas

Something is off. You know it and they know it. Performance expectations are not being met. Customers are frustrated. Other team members are cautiously expressing their concerns. Your gut tells you it’s not going to get better, but your ego believes if any manager can turn this around it’s you!

Terminating an employee is expensive. It usually ends up costing a business 50% of the former employee’s salary. Lost production, resources invested in training, and more. If they are client-facing, you risk losing credibility with the customer or negatively impacting their experience with your company. Even when it’s the right move, letting someone go usually has some negative impact on the culture. At a minimum, it’s deflating.

Unfortunately, I have had to terminate dozens of employees over the past 10 years. I’ve fumbled this process more than once. On some occasions reacting strongly in the present moment and terminating too quickly. On others, giving second, third, and fourth chances in hopes that they would turn things around. Letting someone go isn’t an exact science, but there are a few principles that can help us know what to do, when to do it, and how to do it.

We love family vacations, and we’ve learned the hard way how they work best for our family. One of our first vacations was planned out almost minute by minute. We knew exactly what we were doing and when we were doing it. As the trip went along we had some unexpected issues arise, but because we had spent some much time planning we didn’t want to deviate from the plan. In the end that approach made us frustrated and irritable. We placed the plan over the purpose of enjoying a vacation together.

On a recent vacation we did pretty much the opposite. We went to a beach resort with no plan whatsoever, thinking it would be nice to just relax. By the end of the first day everyone was a little bored and we found ourselves being on edge with each other. We had no plan and we missed out on some great opportunities to make memories together as a family.

Having no plan was a bad idea. Being so tied to the plan that we wouldn’t adjust was a bad idea too. It’s the same in business. Planning is essential, but so is the ability to pivot when necessary. You need to consistently plan, assess, and pivot.