After my last post onHire Smart, Hire Right,” a couple fellow Heretics asked about the exact opposite: When and how do you let someone go?

Firing is often one of the hardest things you can do as a founder, but sometimes it has to be done. Tweet This Quote

First, and unsurprisingly, firing is typically one of the hardest things you can do as a founder. It goes against pretty much everything we believe in as entrepreneurs, compounded by the fact that we are usually pretty close to our early employees.

Yet, sometimes it has to be done. The best and hardest advice I have received from my mentors (and is consistently repeated by people much smarter than me) is that you typically have to let someone go much earlier than your gut tells you to. We usually hang on to people for too long, believing “They will come around“ or “It’s just a phase.” Rarely is that true. Instead, you end up with someone underperforming, potentially dragging down the team and not pushing the company forward.

Being fired should never come as a surprise. Tweet This Quote

The second important advice is something my friend Daniel Epstein recently shared with me: Your employees are not your family. As much as we might want to “treat people like family” and “be one big family,” it is just not true. You would go through hell for your family (usually); that is normally not what you would and should do for an employee.

Having said all that, it is super important to communicate clearly and early with your employees if their performance is lacking. Being fired should never come as a surprise. When you make the decision to let someone go, make the whole process as easy and good on your employee as possible.

As much as we would like to believe it, your employees are not your family. Tweet This Quote

I sincerely do hope that you never have to let someone go. Realistically, though, you will have to eventually. When you do, make sure you communicate early and well, treat people with utmost respect, and don’t wait to make the decision.

A version of this post originally appeared on Pascal’s blog.

Pascal Finette

Author Pascal Finette

Pascal is the Managing Director of Singularity University's Startup Lab. He is also an entrepreneur, coach, and speaker who has worked in Internet powerhouses, such as eBay, Mozilla, and Google, and Venture Capital—starting both a VC firm and accelerator program.

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