Knowing When to Let An Employee Go

Holding on to a poor hire not only costs you money, but has negative impacts on the group culture that can have a long term effect on the success of your practice. As the leader of your practice, you need to be able to confront distractors and send a clear message to the rest of your staff of what is or is not acceptable. Handling challenging employees means you have the skills to rehab those who have the internal desire to succeed equally, as well as you can let go of those who are not a fit for your group. 

We all know that hanging onto an “underperforming employee” can cost you company money in lost productivity, and poor staff morale. While the exact cost of bad hire is hard to calculate, Health Care Recruiters International states “a bad hire can cost an organization anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. However, the cost can add up quickly when you factor in lost time, lost productivity and the burden it places on your other employees.” 

So just how does a bad hire impact the success of the team as a whole? Poor performers cause others to work harder and longer often leading to burnout and even more turn over. Consider also, the average time to hire a new employee is roughly 48 days (6 weeks), and onboarding can take at least 2-4 weeks before they are operating at optimal efficiency. 

But even the best hiring practices aren’t foolproof. So how do you know when it’s time to let someone go? Well, look at the numbers and know that it starts at day one.

Get on the Same Page

From the moment an employee accepts a position, get on the same page. Both promoting and termination begin at the time of hire. Establish expectations with their agreed upon status sheet. You must be in agreement regarding the exchange they get as an employee and you as the employer. Once you’ve onboarded them, begin setting their weekly targets and hold them accountable to this performance. 

Verbal Warnings

As soon as the first week goes by with a poor performance, make sure you address it with a verbal warning/meeting to discuss problems and solutions. 

Written Warnings 

The next time they come up short you will need to have a formal meeting to write up what is not being done properly or what is failing to be taken seriously as part of their job.  This meeting ends with an agreed upon program that they will follow and report back to you on it’s progress.

The second written warning is the make it/break it meeting. This is where you set targets and deadlines with clear, concise expectations to be met. At this time, they need to know that should the expectations not be met, changes will be made in the best interest of them, and of the group. 


By this point in time, they should not be surprised since they are failing to perform (if you’ve followed the above steps and set expectations/deadlines). Do not feel the need to rehash the past, simply let them know that you are most concerned about the future for them and the practice. You would like to part ways so they can find an opportunity better suited for them to be successful at. 

Terminating employees is one of the less enjoyable tasks of a CEO, however, preserving the success of the team is of greater importance. Have the confront to manage poor-performing employees so it doesn’t have a greater impact on your practice. Want tips on how to hire the best and brightest? Download our Hiring tip sheet to get some actionable strategies to make the right hire the first time.

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