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8 things I’ve learned about letting someone go

A couple of weeks ago, I got a Facebook message from a kick-ass young entrepreneur who occasionally asks for my advice.

It read: Need a little advice! Tomorrow morning I’m letting go someone for the first time. I’m so nervous! Any good reads or advice?”

I sooooo got why she was nervous.  Letting someone go is hands down one of the shittiest bits of running your own business.  I’ve had to do it several times – the shortest tenure being three weeks and the longest being seven months.

I’m afraid it doesn’t feel any less shitty the more I’ve done it, but I’ve definitely learned some things that help me do the deed with more compassion, professionalism and conviction each time.

I could write a LOT on this topic, however as a starting point I’m sharing the email I sent her – verbatim.  I hope it helps you if you ever need to part ways kindly with someone on your team.

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Quick aside:

My friend had obviously already made up her mind to exit this person from her business, but something I would beseech you not to do is procrastinate on showing someone who isn’t working out the door.

I’ve done this myself quite a few times.  It causes insane levels of stress and disruption for both the team member, the team and me, distracts from the important stuff that needs to get done, and chews up money.

I once found myself starting a pros and cons list to keeping someone in the business and I had a sudden realisation that if I was even thinking along those lines, that I needed to say goodbye to the person.

In my experience to date, I have never regretted letting anybody go.  I’ve gone on to enjoy relationships will practically all of those I’ve had to say goodbye to, and it’s been wonderful to see them find a new role that works much, much more in favour with their strengths.  In every case, when the door with The Remarkables Group closed, another exciting door opened up for them.

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Ok, here it is…

Morning!  

Hope your week is going well.  

Ok here’s my braindump on what has worked well for me in the past:

  1. Check your legalities – if they’re still in probation then it’s easy, but you may still need to pay in lieu of notice based on their contract.  Just make sure you’ve got yourself covered on that front.
  1. Be very clear on why you’re letting them go – if it’s a specific problem, then give three examples of when that has happened so they’re in no doubt as to why you’re making this decision.
  1. Tell them you appreciate all of their hard work/commitment/willingness to learn.
  1. Explain that you need to make a business decision, and it’s fairer to end the relationship now so that they can be free to find a role that will match their strengths and that they’ll ultimately be happier in.
  1. I’ll usually tell them that I was both made redundant AND fired in my career so far, and that both were some of the best things that ever happened to me.
  1. I’d suggest you wrap it up quickly so you can both move on, and tell them that you’ll help them in any way you can to find a new role – I did this with {ex-team member’s name}.  They weren’t a fit for us, but the strengths that they could bring to a different role were obvious so I intro’ed them to a few people.
  1. Whenever I have to have a difficult conversation, I’ll write out what I’m going to say in bullet points in my notebook.  Sometimes I never look at them, but it helps to get my thoughts straight before I sit down with them.
  1. Remember it’s ok to be nervous – and for them to know that you are – it shows that you care.

You’ll do great.  You’re a wonderfully caring, kind person and that’s the only way you can possibly come across in this.

Will be thinking of you – let me know how it goes.

L x

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