Skip to main content

Sometimes you have to let nice people go

You’ve followed all the advice. You’ve hired for skills and fit. You included the team in the hiring process. You started building a culture in your company to support learning, accountability, asking for help when needed, failing as part of succeeding; all the things you felt were within your power to help and nurture.

But it wasn’t enough.

There are people on your team who just don’t have the skills or drive or that “something” you need for your company to succeed. Worst of all, they are nice people too.

And you’ve tried to help them, but it’s just not working. It’s time for the hard talk. And here’s some advice: Do everyone a favor and just get it done and over with. Here’s why.

Successful leaders all agree there are people they should have let go sooner

If you read advice from leaders at successful companies about hiring and firing, I can’t think of a single article that didn’t include something to the effect of “There are people I wish we had let go sooner. Looking back, they were holding us back and delayed our success.” Those sound like harsh words, but think for a moment. Think of time spent helping people succeed who in your gut you knew didn’t have what it took. People in the wrong position for them and you. That would have been time better spent moving the needle. Time lost because you didn’t have the right skills in the company to get things done. Time you won’t ever get back.

It’s not fair to the rest of the team

Psst. What to know something? Yeah, the team, the people who work with the people who aren’t right for the company, the team already knows the person needs to go. Team members might have been trying to drop hints your way for a while now. Oh, and it’s driving them nuts. If you have a team of people who are putting in 110% to succeed but know they are being held back by someone who just doesn’t have what it takes, they are pissed—at you. Yes, you. You’re the boss, you’re expected to deal with this stuff. It’s disheartening for the team to see missed opportunities and potential because there is someone holding them back. The team can’t let a person go, only you can. It won’t be long before their performance starts to suffer as well.

It’s not fair to the employee

The last thing is that, it’s also really not fair to the person who isn’t cutting it. Sure he might be a nice person. She could fit in with the team really well. However, either the person knows they aren’t doing a great job or people have essentially been lying to them saying they are doing fine, when really—they aren’t. Here’s where a great leader steps up and does the right thing.

If the person knows they aren’t cutting it, this could come as a huge relief, if not, it’s a chance for a reality check. Either way, it’s a great opportunity for coaching and mentoring. You can help the person identify the skills and jobs they are well suited for. You can suggest ways to improve and become more successful. It might not take all the sting out of losing a job, but I’d rather lose a job with honesty and a helping hand to improve than slowly but surely fail—and hurt others in the process.

As much as it’s hard. As much as it’s painful. You need to do the right thing and let the people go who are hurting the company more than helping. Be honest with yourself, your team, and the employee; sometimes you just have to let people go.

Leave a Reply

For security, use of Google's reCAPTCHA service is required which is subject to the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.


Inscape Consulting Group
Greg Nichvalodoff, BSc. BM (Honors), MBA, PCC, CMC
Office: 604.943.0800
Mobile: 604.831.4734