Imagine running your business without your best employee on board. It is difficult for some of you to fathom. Imagine though if you were forced to operate without your star recruit because you had to fire them!

Losing staff is a reality. Losing staff through dismissal is hard. And terminating your best employee can be a very distressing decision to make. The anguish is usually generated through the fear of loss. Loss of revenue, experience, innovative ideas, networks. Yet while you may perceive their departure to have a cataclysmic impact upon day to day operations, the fact is that it is rare for the roof to cave in on the back of the departure of just one employee. No matter how good they are! As companies grow, there are a lot more staff holding the fort thus the impact of one individual leaving has a proportionately smaller influence.

When looking to sack your number one employee, perhaps you need to evaluate what makes that one particular employee such a great performer. When you understand the secret to their success, it can be emulated. Were they a sales superstar? While selling is an art, it’s also a science and that can be replicated. Did your employee have great systems? Or are your company systems flawed, thus holding back others within the business from reaching their true potential? It’s worth analysing. If one employee vastly outperforms all their co-workers, either they are the next Einstein or there is something not quite right. Maybe your recruitment strategy is not identifying with and attracting the right candidates.

In the face of firing your best employee, some of you will try to justify retaining their services rather than face the reality of losing them for a sackable indiscretion. It’s a natural reaction. While you may have parted ways with an employee only months previously for inflating the figures on their report, thus established a precedent for such actions, was it really an action that justified termination? Or should it have been a conversation between yourself and that employee? If multiple staff are being found guilty of the same indiscretion, you need to ask yourself why? Are performance expectations unrealistic thus failure to achieve instils a fear of losing one’s job, enticing them to cheat? Are you not providing the right training and resources for staff to achieve their KPI’s? Have you promoted a star performer into a management role they’re not cut out for, setting them up to fail? It is healthy to question past decisions, however there are some actions that cannot be justified no matter how amazing the employee is. You would never condone stealing, would you?

Retaining the services of an employee, any employee, who is caught behaving unethically, can have far reaching negative consequences upon the broader workforce and the business. Generally when one is so willing to commit an offence, it is only a matter of time before their indiscretions escalate. And who knows, they may have already. You just haven’t dug deep enough to realise the full magnitude of their corrupt habits.

Now what if your superstar recruit is doing nothing wrong? What if they simply don’t fit the company culture and cause an imbalance among other staff? The employee may be moving your business in the right direction, but at what expense? Are you willing to lose multiple staff, good staff, in order to keep your one shining recruit? Perhaps it is not your best performing worker that is the problem. Perhaps your workforce needs to adapt its cultural attitude in order to stay fresh in the industry. Hmm…food for thought.

I’ve never met a business owner who didn’t struggle to come to terms with making the decision to fire their best employee. And while some instances are cut and dry, other circumstances require more thought before pulling the trigger on one’s career. Yet your focus must be on what is best for the business. To make ill-founded excuses to retain a high performing employee is a terrible disservice to everyone in the company. As tough as some decision can be in business, supporting double standards are in no one’s best interest. Your staff will never lose respect for you for making the right decision.

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