This helpful article comes from Entrepreneur.
Whether it’s a day-one employee or a co-founder, sometimes even the longest tenured employees need a change of scenery.
Use this process to determine whether a longtime employee would be better off somewhere else:
Some longtime employees stick around despite mismatched visions, but most of them continue to work for the company because they believe in what it’s doing.
When they begin to show signs of deeper disagreements, step in quickly to determine if the disconnect is temporary or more serious.
Has the employee begun to delay projects or submit work below his or her normal standard? Does the employee disagree more frequently with leadership or repeatedly address the same concerns?
Employees and their companies need to agree on what’s worth doing before they can agree on anything else.
If the employee appears to be legitimately unhappy with the situation, don’t put off the inevitable. Schedule a meeting as soon as possible to discuss the issue.
Maybe the employee is just having a bad month or two and taking it out on work. Whatever the reason, the only way to discover the truth is to ask directly.
Start the conversation by communicating the observations from the previous step, then sit back and listen. Encourage honesty — some conflict-averse employees would rather suffer through vision disagreements, but it’s better to rip off the bandage early.
If the issue involves something other than the company’s direction, handle that issue on its own. If the problem lies with vision, though, dig deeper.
Is the issue with a specific part of the vision, or has the whole thing become irreconcilable? Did a single decision set off this change, or has a series of events led to this moment? Does the employee have a point that the company should address, or is the company committed to this vision regardless of the criticism?
The answers to these questions determine what kind of action the disagreement merits.
Depending on the severity of the disagreement, both sides might be happy with a solution less serious than termination. Perhaps the employee could work in a different role, or the projects that started the problem could move to another department.
Don’t put extra work on other people just to keep one longtime employee. That’s not fair to anyone. Instead, look for a solution where the employee can continue to be productive without coming into conflict with the mindset that started the disagreement.
If no such solution exists and the employee is not willing to budge, move to the final step.
As a longtime employee, this person is probably a trusted friend and capable worker. However, if he or she has developed an irreconcilable disagreement with the company’s vision, both sides would be happier if the employee were to find somewhere else to work.
Hard though it may be, remember that the needs of the company come first. Retaining an employee who does not want to help the company achieve its current goal is bad for everyone.
The employee might not want to lose the job, but in the face of long-term dissent — and with the potential for that dissent to spread — do the right thing for everyone and fire the employee with dignity.
No one wants to go through this process. I know I didn’t. Unpleasant as it was, though, it was the right call for my company’s future (and for the employee’s future, too).
If this situation sounds familiar, follow these steps to determine whether a longtime employee is no longer the right fit for the organization.
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