Today, it’s normal for employees to bounce from job to job in pursuit of the right opportunity and fit, especially among millennials. While business owners may not experience a high level of emotional attachment to these workers, it’s much harder when they have to terminate longtime employees.
In these situations, the bonds between leaders and employees can be as strong as a real family. They were there for each other during the good times and the bad. They celebrated during the wins and supported each other during the trials, and they did it all in pursuit of the company’s vision.
When Partnerships Unravel
Our coaches have explained to clients that like marriages, employee relationships can unravel. The long-term employee may develop a disagreement with the direction the company is going, and before you know it, minor friction turns into irreconcilable differences. It can be one of the original employees or it can even be a partner – either way, it may be time for a change.
Not Seeing Eye to Eye
Many founders have to let long-term employees go because they stop seeing eye to eye. They worked well together for years, but as the business started to see some real traction, they began to see different futures for the business.
While there are so many possibilities when it comes to growing a business, it’s unrealistic to expect a company to grow when the people running it disagree on the path that’s being taken. Since these issues are so important to the growth and future of a company, it may be best to let a long-term employee depart so they can pursue opportunities that are more aligned with their personal goals.
The decision to let a longtime employee go is not an easy one, but if it’s the best decision for the company, sometimes it has to be done. Founders cannot expect their companies do grow freely and uninterrupted if the people running them have disagreements over the direction – that’s just counterproductive.
Do the Visions Match?
Is your longtime employee continuing to work for you despite a mismatched vision? If he or she is showing signs of deep disagreement, it’s time to determine if this disconnect is minor or something more serious. Is the employee delaying projects? Are they submitting work that is below their usual standards? Is the employee frequently disagreeing with senior executives, or are they bringing up the same concerns repeatedly?
If it’s apparent that your long-term employee is unhappy about something, it’s time to sit down and have an open and honest conversation with him or her. Schedule a face-to-face meeting so he or she can discuss the issue. Maybe the employee is having personal problems at home and it’s affecting them in the office. Whatever the root cause, the only way to bring it out in the open is to ask them about it.
To start the conversation, communicate your observations and quietly listen. Encourage your employee to be honest. Perhaps the issue does not have to do with the company’s direction, but it has to do with something else. In that case, address the issue. But if it has to do with the company vision, you’ll want to learn more.
Does the issue have to do with one aspect of the company’s vision, or does it have to do with the whole thing and the issue is irreconcilable? Does the employee have a good point and should you address it? Or, are you committed to the direction the company is taking, despite the employee’s conflicts?
There May Be Alternatives
Depending on the issue, the solution may not involve termination. Perhaps it would be better to give the employee a different role, or perhaps another department can take over the projects. However, we are not advising to force others to take on extra work just to keep one longtime employee happy because that is not fair. If the above solutions are not realistic, you have to make the call that’s best for the company.
This person may have been a trusted friend and a very capable employee, but if the irreconcilable disagreements surround the company’s vision, it’s best for the employee to find another place to work. It may be hard, but the company has to come first and when you retain an employee who does not agree with the company’s vision. It’s not only bad for the company, but the employee’s dissent can also spread to others.
Our coaches’ advice is to terminate the employee with dignity. We know it can be unpleasant, but it has to be done. At AdviCoach, our business coaches can guide you every step of the way in regard to hiring, teambuilding, and growth management. Contact us today to see how our coaching services can benefit you and your business.