Making Staff Leave

Learn how to judge performance and let people go accordingly.

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Now for the hard stuff. Up until now, we’ve spoken about employee turnover having an upside, how to let people go with your blessing, and how to fight the good fight. That’s all well and good. However, did you turn to this chapter wondering how to let people go? Well, let’s look at that now.

Regardless of how good a manager you are, you’ll always have to deal with bad performance. In fact, it’s an integral part of your job. Here’s why:

  • Given that you’re responsible for the output of your team, if you have a bad performer, your output is suffering. You’ll need to work out how to deal with the situation.

  • Bad performers on teams affect their teammates. Given that teams are interdependent, others in the team will soon become frustrated with those who are not performing at the expected standard.

  • The bar that you set for acceptable performance is firmly fixed at the level of your worst performer. The longer you go without attempting to fix the problem, the lower your bar is as a manager. It reflects badly on you and your team.

Performance Improvement Plan

Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) is a tool that you can use to force a resolution to an ongoing performance problem. Before we look at it in detail, you should understand the following:

  • A PIP should only be used when other means have failed to improve the situation. This means that you should not be dropping them on people as a surprise. Assuming you’ve been following the course and have been building strong and trustworthy relationships with your staff, you should be having continual conversations with them about their performance, including discussing situations where their performance seems to be getting worse. A PIP is used when continual conversations about how to improve poor performance are getting nowhere.

  • A PIP is serious since the worst outcome for your staff member is that they are dismissed, and their contract is terminated. Don’t treat it lightly. For someone on the way out, the PIP is the last thing that happens before they are let go.

  • Employment and labor laws may differ in your country, so check the correct course of action for poor performers with your manager and HR team, or seek external advice if you are unsure. I have used PIPs for U.S.- and U.K.-based staff, but I cannot speak for all jurisdictions around the world.

So, what is a PIP? In short, it’s a formal document outlining:

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