January 1, 2024

Firing Your Founding Team Members & Friends

Hello, my friend!

I know first-hand that one of the most arduous dilemmas entrepreneurs encounter is when they must let go of their founding team members or friends.

While firing a founding team member or friend might seem nearly inconceivable, sometimes this crucial decision must be made for your business venture to thrive. Delaying this decision will only make it more complicated in the long run and exacerbate any issues that may arise.

When faced with such circumstances, the best approach is to remain compassionate yet resolute while being open about your reasoning.

Here’s an interesting take on the matter by Harvard Business Review:

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Reasons For Firing Your Founding Team Members & Friends

I feel firing a founding team member or friend becomes a necessity for the success of your business because of the following five most common reasons:

The Curious Case of Goals Misalignment

As your startup progresses and matures, it is not unusual for team members' objectives to alter. The vision they once believed while joining, no longer makes them get off their bed every morning willing to do something more exciting than the day before. If a founding member's aspirations no longer correspond with the business's vision, it could be necessary to part ways with them.

More Talk Less Action - Performance Issues

If a team member is unable to meet expectations, it could impede your company's progress. For instance, if your project manager cannot keep up with the scope, cost, and time, it might be necessary to part ways with that individual considering those are the key KPIs on which your product lifecycle depends on.

Toxic Behavior & Red Flags

Toxic behavior, like workplace politics, bullying and discrimination, can disastrously impact the team dynamic. To safeguard the mental health of your colleagues and uphold company values, it is essential to take swift action when issues with such conduct arise.

Conflict Of Interest

Well it happens more often than you’d imagine. If there are any conflicts of interest or activities that could be detrimental to the company, it might be necessary for the founding team member or as a matter of fact any team member to leave.

Too Bad, You Need To Cut Down Costs

In order to reduce costs and get back on a firm financial footing, it may be inevitable that some team members must be released if the company is experiencing financial difficulty. Possible, one of the worst things you could hope for but when the time comes don’t wait for too long.

Now How to Fire your Team Members the Right Way!

Here are some actionable tips that can help you navigate this difficult process:

Assess The Situation And Make A Decision

Careful analysis of the employee's past performance and contributions, as well as the team member's alignment with corporate goals, should be taken into account.

You must also contemplate how their leave-taking could conversely affect both colleagues and business progression.

From my diverse years in this capacity, I have learned that taking deliberate steps can ensure more informed judgments while minimizing damaging effects on operations.

Be Transparent And Communicate Clearly

It's important to make sure they understand why this decision was made and what lies ahead for all involved parties.Being forthright allows them to come away from this situation and understand your motives more clearly, helping minimize any misinterpretation or uncertainty.

Communicate the reasons for the decision and what lies ahead for all involved parties. Be clear and concise in your communication, and do not shy away from answering any questions that may arise.

Acknowledge their hard work and appreciate their efforts throughout the time you employed them. If the team member expresses emotion when informed, be patient and understanding.

From my experience, I understand that showing sympathy during such sad news can make all parties involved more comfortable as they move on in life - post-employment days included!

Offer Support, Severance, And Let Them Leave

Staying connected doesn't always have to be off the table when it is necessary to part ways with an employee. Depending on the situation, investing in their transition may be appropriate and beneficial for both parties involved.

For example, consider offering a severance package or connecting them with job opportunities that align better with their skillset; even going as far as providing a positive review of your experience working together might help find them new employment.

This further reflects how much you value everyone's well-being and commitment to caring for them during this change.

Focus On What Needs To Be Done After Letting Them Go

Being prepared for the consequences of firing a team member is pivotal as a leader. If you are proactive and anticipate how other coworkers may react, it can go far in minimizing any repercussions on your business.

For example, when I had to fire an employee before, I made sure that the remaining staff was apprised of why this had occurred and took steps to ensure we could still deliver quality results efficiently as one cohesive unit.

Summing It All Up

No matter the situation, responding with understanding and openness is critical while remaining steadfast in your resolution. Ultimately, we should strive for company success while showing our employees respect and impartiality.

Ultimately, dismissing a founding team member or friend is rarely a pleasant experience, yet it may be necessary to ensure the prosperity of your business.

I hope this week's newsletter has been valuable to you, and I'd love to know if you've ever been in such a situation and how you handled it.

What am I reading these days?

Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment by Daniel Kahneman and a few others.

My Favorite quote from the book

What AI does involves no magic and no understanding; it is mere pattern finding.

Very interesting. I believe generative AI is not sophisticated enough to think on its own but you never know the future.

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