How to Release A Team Member Who No Longer Supports You

Close your eyes and picture this situation.
Wait, don’t close your eyes because then you can’t read.

Just picture this:

You’ve hired someone (and you didn’t follow this perfect plan to hiring the right person and you didn’t first resolve these mindset mistakes). So of course, they aren’t a perfect match.

That’s okay! You didn’t know.

But you hired them and you hoped things would work out. From the start, there were some mismatched expectations and they didn’t quite follow through as you would have, but you focused on not micromanaging and letting her do her thing.

Pretty soon, you were making more excuses to yourself (because “trying not to micromanage” is an excuse, even if it’s in service of trying to let someone do their job). You were picking up the slack that they should have been. After all, calendar management is a task for your executive virtual assistant, not yours anymore, but I get it, it’s easier if you do it anyway (please note the sarcasm).

Eventually, you’re doing almost all of the work you delegated to her because you like her and don’t want to make her feel bad or have to reprimand her. What’s worse, things are falling through the cracks again and clients are NOT happy about it.

I get it.

It’s uncomfortable to face things that aren’t working. You can’t hide your head in the sand and hope things will get better or pretend a situation just doesn’t exist.

Real talk: you have to realize that keeping someone who is misaligned or not meeting expectations is really just hurting yourself. 

When this situation happens, there are two ways you can release a team member who is no longer supporting you. Either choice is in service to be kind and graceful. There should be no hurt feelings or catastrophizing of the situation.

Choice #1: Address the Situation

Now, I didn’t say confront. Because this isn’t a confrontation! This is simply a conversation to talk about the situation and what can be done to rectify it.

Schedule a time to talk and address the underperformance or how expectations aren’t being met with the person. Then, give them an opportunity to improve. Be specific and give examples of when an expectation was met , or when an expectation was not met. This is also a great time to share how you’d appreciate the situation to be handled in the future.

At the end of the conversation, give a clear outline of expectations and refreshed job description. Schedule a time to talk in the future and a clear objective of what you expect to happen by then, along with consequences if they don’t rise to your expectations.

For example: in a month, what do you want them to do? Show up to meetings on time, answer emails in a timely manner, and so on, based on what you outlined in your refreshed job description.

Give your team member an opportunity to improve and see if they’d like to work with the new expectations. If you both would like to carry on, sign a new contract or subagreement with the new working terms. Otherwise, part ways amicably at this time.

Choice #2: Peaceably Part Ways

If you decide, “You know what, I really would choose to release this team member,” without giving her the chance to improve upon her actions, treat the situation with grace and respect.

And, most importantly, end it quickly.

The worst break ups are fraught with gray areas and uncertainty. Don’t do this to another person!

While you don’t have to say why you wish to release this team member, it is courteous to share a few reasons why you wish to no longer continue with this person’s support. Give a clear final date and what you need them to do prior to that date.

In the meantime, work on updating your hiring preferences and put out an application using the steps I shared here.

It’s never fun to release a team member who is no longer supporting you, but in the long run, it’s for the best for all involved. She’ll find a client who better fits with her skills and you’ll find a team member who fully supports your needs.

Use this as an opportunity to reflect on the situation and make choices and commitments to not repeat the same mistakes in hiring. Then, use my guidelines to make sure your next team member supports you and is in complete service to you and your business.

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