Would you enthusiastically rehire every person on your team tomorrow, if given the choice?

If you immediately answered ‘no’ to that question (or hesitantly answered ‘yes’) with one or more people in mind, it’s time to reconsider why you’re keeping them around.

Perhaps I said that too lightly…it’s time to fire them tomorrow.

The team you build around yourself is the most important asset you can have.

I was working with a team last week that has someone on their team that everyone knows is the wrong person. She has a bad attitude, is bad at what she does, and loves gossiping and spreading rumors. But, she’s been with the company for over 20 years.

I posed this question to their leadership team “Would you be better off paying her salary and asking her not to come to work?”.

They thought about it for a second and unanimously agreed that they would.

In other words, they would be better off without her than with her, yet they continue to not only pay her, but let her come in and destroy the culture they’ve worked so hard to build.

While this seems mind-blowing, about a third of the teams I work with have at least one person on their team like this.

Usually, leaders who are hesitant to fire people they know are the wrong people on their team, give one of two excuses.

1. I don’t have time to rehire their position and I need someone in their position

2. I feel bad.

The problem is, the wrong people are costing you a lot more than you’re realizing. They’re wasting your money, stealing your time, killing your culture, and robbing you of the opportunity to replace them with a rockstar.

But if the paragraph above isn’t reason enough, here’s two things you should know to give you the confidence to fire the wrong people tomorrow.

1. By keeping the wrong people on your team, you are unintentionally penalizing everyone else on your team

You’re not the only one who notices they are not a cultural match or are bad at what they do. Everyone else on your team knows it too.

By allowing the wrong people to keep their job, everyone else is being penalized.

They’re fixing their mistakes, dealing with their bad attitude, doing more work than they should have to, or not being allowed to do their job well because of the distractions and incompetence around them.

Eventually, you’ll lose your best people by forcing them to work alongside of the wrong people if you’re too weak to fire them.

So don’t think of it as a question to keep or fire the wrong people on your team.

The real question is, ‘do you want to keep the wrong people and let your best people walk away, or do the right thing and fire the wrong people now?’

Reward the best people on your team by firing the people that you wouldn’t enthusiastically rehire tomorrow.

2. Firing someone is 48 hours of pain for a lifetime of freedom

Firing someone is rarely fun. Especially if they’ve been with the company forever, they have a family to provide for, they’ve had a rough year, or other circumstances that let your emotional side make decisions that you know are not best for the company.

The reality is that firing someone is really difficult for the 24 hours leading up to the conversation, and for 24 hours after the conversation.

After that, you’ll generally find a lot more peace in the decision and realize how much better off the business is with the wrong people being removed.

Your team around them will have a renewed sense of energy and focus.

You’ll start to realize how many things they were actually doing poorly and how much trouble they were causing.

You’ll wonder why you let your emotional side dominate such an important decision for so long.

And remember, just because you have to fire someone, doesn’t mean you can’t do it with empathy. Give them a generous severance, don’t tarnish their name when you announce it to the team, and/or help them find their next job.

I always say that getting the right team is like starting a retirement account. Only when you do it will you fully understand how small changes can have such a big impact, and you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it a lot sooner.