Nothing slows down a startup like bad hiring — except when you keep those bad hires around for longer than you should. The key to firing lies in 4 principles:
1. The employee should see it coming – they should know in advance that being let go is a real possibility if they don’t improve.
2. They should be given a chance to improve — they need to know exactly what you expect of them and should agree to meet that one key, measurable goal within a specific time period.
3. Their ego should never be damaged — help them transition out of the role by providing a reference, reaching out to your network and providing 1-4 weeks of severance; most people can find a new job, but they have to break the bad news to their partner, kids and friends.
4. Never lie to your other employees about why the person was fired — be brief, but make it clear they were fired for performance reasons. This helps set a culture based on performance, not politics or tenure.
(1) Re. “Nothing slows down a startup like keeping bad hires around for longer than you should” — see Five bad excuses to avoid firing poor performers, and why you should “expose the pain”.
(2) Re. “help them transition out of the role by providing a reference and reaching out to your network” — I’m not sure how you can do this if you fired them for poor performance. Advice, anyone?
(3) Re. “Their ego should never be damaged” — listening to their feedback helps; see Exit interviews.