As a new year commences, you look back at the past year and try to quantify your performance. As a business owner, the various parameters you look into are P&L, order book, sales pipeline, operations, talent acquisition, attrition numbers and the people whom you let go.
Letting people go is the last thing a company wants to do. There are investments that are made in a person who you employ, and an asset turning to a liability hurts business in every possible way. Many times, it is not only incompetence but also disciplinary actions that lead to the door being shown. It takes years to build a company culture, but just a few people can destroy it completely.
A few years back, when we were fresh entrepreneurs and were handling our India office remotely, letting go of someone meant sleepless nights for us. Dhawal and I used to struggle as to who would lead the conversation and tried to practice different scenarios before the actual thing. When the time to execute came, we ended up having conversations that were rough and led to chaos and panic across the office. Clearly, we were not doing a great job, and the reason behind it was that we were guilty of taking away the livelihood of an individual (at least that’s what we thought at that point in time).
That is when I had a conversation with my dear friend Rahul Khosla, CEO of Heady, whose reasoning is something I stick to even today (and I will explain why as well). He explained – “if you do not let go of someone, then that means you are encouraging behavior that should ideally be punished and making that the norm. The resource will survive with either mediocre performance, or poor work ethics and culture, and never even be aware that there is something wrong. After a few years, when this person joins some other company, the chances of them getting fired are extremely high owing to your fake benevolence and their ignorance. Not only will this destroy their confidence, but it also put the credibility of your company and your leadership in question. Trust me when I say this, you will be doing someone a favor if you fire them, this will let them know their shortcomings and help them work on it because ultimately, they will get fired, if not today then tomorrow. Accepting these is a crime that you are committing against this individual”.
These Golden words helped us get rid of the unnecessary guilt that we had and made us streamline our processes and our team. If we look back at the people we have let go, we have come to realize, that they were able to transform their careers after learning from their mistakes which we had to point out to them. Though we do not want to disclose any names, but these people joined esteemed companies like – TCS, Newgen, Times Internet, Top digital agencies to name a few (I doubt that anyone was left behind, which would have been the case had we retained them) and are doing absolutely well in their careers. Lesson well learned, in these cases.
If you are an employer then you need to know that this is for your employee’s betterment if you are an employee who is asked to leave, then do get that proper feedback, because this lesson will help you throughout your life.