How to Cut Ties with a Longtime Employee

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How to Cut Ties with a Longtime Employee

And just like that. . .we jumped from a super short and rainy Spring to what feels like the dog days of Summer.  Hope this newsletter finds everyone keeping cool and hydrated.


I knew it would be a challenge for me to write a newsletter every month.  However, I wanted to hold myself accountable to this goal, which I accomplished for a 16 month run. . .until I missed the month of May.  But as I share with my clients, I am giving myself some grace (due to personal circumstances) and providing more in-depth content this month. Failure would only come if I stopped writing the newsletter all together.  Therefore, my knees have been dusted off and I’m up and running again!


As Business Owners, we will have to let people go as the business grows for a multitude of reasons.  If you haven’t experienced that yet, at some point you most likely will.  Delaying the termination holds the Business Owner “hostage” by that employee and often creates issues with other employees. It’s NEVER easy and I have worked with many clients in this area to develop the skills needed to make it bearable.


How to Cut Ties with a Longtime Employee


Today, it’s normal for employees to bounce from job to job in pursuit of the right opportunity and fit, especially among millennials. While Business Owners may not experience a high level of emotional attachment to these workers, it’s much harder when they have to terminate longtime employees.
In these situations, the bonds between leaders and employees can be as strong as a real family. They were there for each other during the good times and the bad. They celebrated during the wins and supported each other during the trials, and they did it all in pursuit of the business’s vision.

When Things Begin to Unravel

I’ve experienced with clients that, like marriages, employee relationships can unravel. The long-term employee may develop a disagreement with the direction the business is going, and before you know it, minor friction turns into irreconcilable differences. It can be one of the original employees or it can be a fairly new employee – either way, it may be time for a change.


Not Seeing Eye to Eye


Many Business Owners have to let long-term employees go because they stop seeing eye-to-eye. They worked well together for years, but as the business continues to grow, they began to see different futures for the business and/or the employees.
While there are so many possibilities when it comes to growing a business, it’s unrealistic to expect a business to grow when the people running it disagree on the path that is being taken. Since these issues are so important to the growth and future of a business, it may be best to let a long-term employee depart so they can pursue opportunities that are more aligned with their personal goals.  And doing this before their attitude begins to affect the attitudes of other employees is critical.  I often refer to this scenario as a “cancer” which can spread fairly quickly.  Once I was told that things which grow quickly are normally weeds and weeds are hard to eradicate.


The decision to let a longtime employee go is not an easy one, but if it’s the best decision for the business, sometimes it has to be done. Business Owners cannot expect their companies do grow freely and uninterrupted if the people running them have disagreements over the direction – that’s just counterproductive.

Do the Visions Match?

Is your longtime employee continuing to work for you despite a mismatched vision? If he or she is showing signs of deep disagreement, it’s time to determine if this disconnect is minor or something more serious. Is the employee delaying projects? Are they submitting work that is below their usual standards? Is the employee frequently disagreeing with management, or are they bringing up the same concerns repeatedly?


If it’s apparent that your long-term employee is unhappy about something, it’s time to sit down and have an open and honest conversation with him or her. Schedule a face-to-face meeting so he or she can discuss the issue. Maybe the employee is having personal problems at home and it’s affecting them in the office. Whatever the root cause, the only way to bring it out in the open is to ask them about it.
To start the conversation, communicate your observations and quietly listen. Encourage your employee to be honest. Perhaps the issue does not have to do with the business’s direction, but it has to do with something else. In that case, address the issue. But if it has to do with the business vision, you’ll want to learn more.

There May Be Alternatives

Depending on the issue, the solution may not involve termination. Perhaps it would be better to give the employee a different role, or perhaps another department can take over the projects. However, we are not advising to force others to take on extra work just to keep one longtime employee happy because that is not fair. If the above solutions are not realistic, you have to make the call that’s best for the business.
This person may have been a trusted friend and a very capable employee, but if the irreconcilable disagreements cannot be resolved, it’s best for the employee to find another place to work. It may be hard, but the business has to come first.


As an added bonus to this topic, here are 4 Qualities to Look for in the Right Employees.
Finding and keeping the right employees can be one of the most challenging aspects of building a successful business. Hiring good people can be hard, and keeping them can be harder.


Whether you’ve been a one-man/woman show and you can’t expand further without adding employees, or you’ve had difficulty finding top talent, in both scenarios you must to know which qualities make up a good employee. This is a skill all Business Owners need to develop because the success of their businesses hinges on the strength of their teams.


The problem Business Owners have is they don’t want to add risk their business by hiring the wrong staff. So, how can you find the right employees, and what traits should you look for? Here, are the four most important qualities that make up some of the best employees.

1.     Cooperative, Not Argumentative

One of the worst words a boss can hear is “no.” When you hire people, one of the first things you should watch out for is an argumentative personality. When you ask a new hire to do something, do they come back with “no” or “I can’t or won’t do that” when you make a perfectly reasonable request?

If an employee frequently argues with you, or constantly gives you reasons why something can’t or won’t be done, this is a red flag. As a Business Owner, it’s best to surround yourself with people who possess a positive, can-do attitude. This doesn’t mean that employees must know how to do everything. If they don’t know how to do something instead of saying “yes,” and doing it wrong or not do it behind your back, they should say, “I don’t know how to do that, but I’d be happy to learn if you can show me how.”

2.     Look Beyond the Résumé

Business Owners have mixed opinions about résumés. Some Business Owners insist on seeing them. Some of them could care less about them, while others will gloss over them but they’re more concerned about the applicant’s personality and willingness to learn.


Businesses should not hire based off of résumés alone as this doesn’t usually work out well. As you interview, it’s important that you like the person sitting in front of you. Ask yourself, “Will this individual fit in our business culture? Can we imagine working alongside him or her all day?” You have to listen to your gut, but be careful not to get carried away by how well you got along in the interview.  Sometimes you are not hiring a person that is like you for a particular job opening.  Therefore, this can result in putting an employee in the wrong seat of the bus.


Hiring someone only because they look good on paper can be a huge mistake, so make sure to hire people whose personalities will be a welcome addition to the team, especially while everyone is in close quarters. “Hiring people is an art, not a science, and résumés can’t tell you whether someone will fit into a business’s culture.” – Howard Schulz, the former CEO of Starbucks.

3.     Hire for Complementary Skillsets

When you have less than 50 employees, it’s smart to hire people with complementary skillsets. The idea is to hire people with different strengths, especially when you’re first starting out.
While the types of jobs you fill depend on your industry, here’s an example: At first you may hire a receptionist, a sales person, someone to handle marketing, and someone to handle the accounting and payroll; you hire people with different skill sets. This complementary approach is critical for all startups. The idea is that your employees’ strengths complement each other’s weaknesses.

4.     Willingness to Learn

If your business is still fairly new or if your business still has a lot of room to grow, you may not have the option of hiring the most high-skilled and high-payed workers, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Many Business Owners strongly believe that a positive attitude is more important than an impressive résumé because a lot of skills can be learned. Take Barbara Corcoran for example, one of the “Sharks” on the hit TV show, Shark Tank, who said, “Always choose attitude over experience. Always.”
While building a great team for your business is essential to its success, don’t hire someone until you’re sure that he or she is the right person. You don’t want to rush it, even if you’re in a hurry to fill a position. Hiring is similar to dating in many ways. A lot of it comes down to asking the right questions, learning about the applicant, and determining if his or her values and work ethic align with the culture you’re trying to build.


Parting thoughts. . . Hiring and firing employees can be extremely challenging, but that is how I help Business Owners make this process a lot easier by equipping them with the right toolset and skills. I can help Business Owners identify the qualities that are important so you can hire the right people and ensure you retain the finest staff.

If you are ready to improve your hiring & firing skills, schedule a conversation with me today using the following link:

Make it a Profitable Month!
Teresa Pedigo

Teresa Pedigo

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About Me

Teresa A. Pedigo is the Owner & Founder of T.A. Pedigo & Associates, Inc. Teresa works with Business Owners and Entities to help them set goals, create action plans to reach those goals, and provides accountability to keep the owner on track to meet their goals.

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