Question: Should I let an underperforming employee go now, or wait until we find a replacement and why? They are not toxic, just time to move on.
Give Them the Choice
"Bad workers usually get warnings. Businesses are entitled to two weeks notice. And here, you have a decent worker who, while continuing to add value, has outlived his or her purpose there to little fault of their own. So, the fair but not painless path is letting the employee choose between going or staying on to save money until either you replace them or they replace their income source."
Give Them a Different Role
"Hiring someone is expensive. Once hired, training a new employee is time-consuming. If there's an employee that is underperforming in their current role, assess what skills they bring to the table and if another role in your company would better suit their talents. Sam might be a poor salesperson, but he could make a fantastic customer care representative. Termination is always my last resort."
Make the Hard Decision
"Let the employee go as soon as you know they're not the right fit. It allows them to find a better fit for themselves, and once they aren't there it will make you more motivated to fill the void -- otherwise you could last with a subpar employee for a much longer period of time than you'd planned."
Let Them Go
"Underperformers are are rarely non-toxic. In my experience, most employees look to each other to gauge the acceptable level of performance within your company. When you hold on to C players, you risk your A players leaving out of frustration and your B players conforming due to the assumption that lower standards are acceptable."
Make Sure They Understand From the Start
"Every employee I hire gets the same speech on the first day, "Don't be good. Don't be great. Be irreplaceable to me. I am super busy, and I move really fast. If you don't make yourself irreplaceable to me, I promise that I will replace you." It's our job to make an environment that people love being in, it's their job to be valuable enough to stay there. I have never wished I fired someone later."
Don't Tolerate Underperformance
"Your team is only as good as your weakest link. Tolerating anything less than great performance undermines your team's ability to produce the best output. It's important to solicit constructive feedback from your top performers to ensure deficiencies in your workforce are corrected -- either through a performance improvement plan or termination -- before it spreads."
Invest in a Smooth Transition
"Your reputation is impacted by how employees, both current and former, perceive your company. When you identify an underperformer, spend time understanding why that person wasn't a good fit (so you don't hire the wrong candidate again) and invest resources to help that individual find the right position for his or her next career move (to develop long-term karma)."
Focus on Finding Their Replacement
"As tempting as it may be to let them go right away, as underperforming is toxic, the subsequent problems left by not having a replacement in place can be even more toxic. Focus on finding a replacement who you can train in conjunction, so when you terminate the underperforming employee you will not suffer from missed deadlines because there was no one to take over for that person's duties."
Help Them Find a Better Fit
"People often need coaching to get to the next level. If they are not adding value despite your best efforts, don't keep them as a stop-gap measure. Their poor performance will negatively impact the team, so let them go along with a conversation about why. This will drive you to find your desired A-player while supporting that person's transition into a different company/role that's a better fit."
Keep Only the Right Fits
"In his book "Good to Great," Jim Collins argues that great companies get the right people on the bus and the wrong people off the bus as soon as they realize someone isn't fitting. Get the underperforming employee off the bus now, to free up that seat for the right candidate and to make sure you're not demotivating any of the right people on the bus by keeping the underperforming employee around."