Let me start by saying that there’s a time and a place to let people go. When you have an employee who’s simply not aligned with your culture, and whose toxicity is bringing the entire team down, your best option, frankly, may be to fire that employee.
Yet firing an employee should never be your first instinct, especially if the issue is simply one of lackluster performance. That’s because most employees can be coached and trained to get better—but only if you’re willing to make that investment.
All too often, I hear leaders talk about how they are glad to be rid of so-and-so, or how it was really no big deal when so-and-so left the company. Again, there are situations where that’s probably true, but what these comments suggest to me is that the employer had simply given up rather than invest in coaching and positive feedback.
Don’t Manage Your Employees Out
One way in which leaders manage their employees out of the company—prompting them to quit or driving them to a point where termination is the only step forward—is by being punitive. But when you withhold bonuses or pay raises, that hardly incentivizes your employee to fall in line with the company’s goals and mission. Most of the time, it simply makes the employee eager to find another job.
Rather than taking this punitive approach, sit down with your employee and offer direct feedback. I recommend that you don’t pull punches. Let them know that their performance is falling short. But don’t threaten them; instead, ask how you can help them grow into their role a little better. Brainstorm with your employee about how to make that cultural fit snug and secure.
And make it clear to all of your employees: Failure isn’t a cause for punishment. Rather, it’s an opportunity for learning and development. Make your company culture one where failure is a springboard to bigger and better things, not cause for fear or anxiety.