I've worked in and seen many organizations where the leaders are too afraid to make the difficult staffing decisions of letting people go. It's easy to let someone go if they do something egregious or illegal, but it's just as important to do it for performance reasons, not living up to your values, or organizational needs.
It's never fun to let people go, but the alternative is far worse for your staff morale, financial health, and organization culture.
Here are three big reasons you might ask someone to leave, and why you should do it:
Performance issues: If you've worked with someone and tried to help them improve their performance, but its not getting better, you should let them go in a respectful and timely fashion. Make sure you notify the rest of the staff when you do (details not necessary), and offer the person you're letting go appropriate options, like severance, to avoid a nasty departure.
Values: Many leaders let people stay who do great work but are toxic to the organization. Keeping someone who is disrespectful, undermines co-workers, or otherwise doesn't reflect your values will create a toxic environment, and ultimately do more harm than good, no matter how great their work product.
Organizational Needs: This is probably the hardest. But if your programmatic needs change or you lose funding, keeping people who no longer fit your needs is a major risk for the long-term financial health of your organization.
Making a tough staffing decision isn't easy, but sometimes it has to be done. Let us know how you deal with transitioning staff in the comments on our blog.
Judith Freeman is the co-founder and Executive Director of NOI.