As you work toward your vision, you realize you can’t do it all yourself. You hire people. I hired people. I needed people, I needed a team. To realize my vision, I needed people just as inspired and creative as I like to think I am. I needed creativity and energy to match mine as I built toward my goals. Along the way, as my business grew, I started to realize that some of the people I hired no longer shared the goals of the business. Some of them just showed up to put in the work and clock out at five. This can be a troubling spot for a leader. How do you know it’s time to let someone go?

First, firing someone or letting them go must be done for the right reasons. There are obviously some blatant reasons to fire someone, from gross incompetence to harassment. Those are obvious, and we don’t need to discuss those types of reasons. Hopefully, you’ve learned by now what constitutes an employee that is just not a competent employee and can handle those situations. However, there can be some variability to what is causing an employee to underperform. Are they unhappy? Unable to comprehend the tasks at hand? Or is there something deeper going on?

As a leader, it is your job to evaluate not only the performance of your team but their willingness to grow and change with the company. While that’s not a reason to let someone go by itself, paired with decreasing job satisfaction and performance, it could be the catalyst for larger issues that may present themselves as time goes on. The truth is that some people you hired may no longer share your vision, they may have different goals than you outside your company. Being able to recognize that and have those conversations is part of being a good leader.

Communication is once again the leading factor in determining the stance of your team and employees. Having one-on-one conversations to get a feel for where your employee stand in their career goals and aspirations is a great start. You shouldn’t let someone go for feeling like they aren’t working toward their personal goals, but rather find out if you can cultivate their goals and give them whatever training you can provide that sets them up for success outside your company. These are people, that you’ve trusted with the operational aspects of your business and shouldn’t be shed like dead skin.

This is about personal development and you’ll find that some employees may feel they have reached a ceiling with your organization and that’s perfectly fine. There is no standard for any career path, we’re all human after all. Letting someone go doesn’t necessarily have to be a negative event. It could mean giving someone the freedom to explore their options (with a nice reference letter) or it could mean they have contributed all they can to your company and it’s time for them to move on, even if they feel they are doing a good job. This can be difficult, but often some employees will just go through the motions and it benefits your business to hire someone that has more of a growth mentality.

That’s where this gets difficult. You may have an employee doing a competent job, showing up and clocking in and out at the same time every day, getting their work done, but certainly not moving forward. While some of your staff might be destined for task work, perhaps this employee is in a position that demands innovation and a growth mindset. Something is off. Having that conversation and determining if this position is a right fit and whether it’s time to move on can be difficult, but necessary.

Firing someone for cause is generally cathartic. Letting someone go because they are no longer a fit for the role or working towards the vision you have for the business can be stressful for both parties. But in the end, you must do what is right for the success of your business and this sometimes means letting someone go who hasn’t necessarily done a bad job but is just going through the motions. Complacency isn’t one of the keys to innovation and growth, but rather a massive boulder in the way. It’s not easy to move, but eventually, you’ll have to shoulder up and move it.