Have you ever felt like throwing up when making a big decision? Like saying yes to your future husband/wife. Or when signing a contract worth millions (or for some people, billions) of dollars. Or parting ways with someone.
I told you I wanted to document about my startup journey more diligently so people out there who are thinking of starting up something can benefit. And this includes the unglamorous side of things, such as firing. Today we said goodbye to one of the team member at Pod after a year fighting side by side. It was a tough decision but one that is needed to move the team forward. I know we’re some small startup that not many people know about yet but hopefully someday we can read about this moment and see how far we’ve grown.
If you think firing is like what you see on TV:
You’re horribly wrong. On second thought, maybe I should have worn a green-yellow suit today. Maybe that could help.
Anyway, when you have to part ways with someone who has been part of your journey, someone who believed in your vision and are willing to sacrifice a cushy, stable job to build that vision alongside you; you need to dismiss them with the utmost respect.
I think the best way is to be straightforward and honest on why the departure is necessary and to be emphatic. A good advice that I got from one of the mentors is to make sure as the employer, you communicate to your team when they’re not performing so the final blow won’t be a surprise. Don’t just fire at the first sight of incompetency. But after two or three warnings (this is on case by case basis), don’t be afraid to cut your losses. Also, I don’t believe in shaming the people you no longer want to work with. Unless they kill cats. Then, they totally deserve it. (OH MY GOD, I JUST KILLED A FROG BY ACCIDENT TODAY!!! but let’s save that story for another day).
Although sometimes we get carried away with emotions when people failed you or betrayed you or they don’t deliver as per expected but as a leader, your job is to be objective when evaluating situations. Don’t make decisions in the heat of the moment. Evaluate properly but once you’ve figured out the decision, don’t procrastinate because you don’t want to have the tough conversation. The faster you confront the person, the quicker you can move forward.
After a big event like this, especially if you have a small team; it can have a great impact on the team’s morale. Talk to the rest of your team about the new team structure and address the elephant in the room : why did it happen? Be general in discussing the matter and avoid from badmouthing / backstabbing the ex-teammate. That is very unprofessional. And it breeds a toxic culture within the team.
Last but not least, don’t burn bridges. Who knows, the people you see as a mismatch today will make the epic comeback to the company as someone bigger and better in the future.
Okay, now I need to go lie down.