What Is The Best Way To Deal With A Popular Employee That Is Underperforming?

I had a cofounder that was very similar to the description of your employee. Everybody loved “Ken”. He was funny, got along with everyone, fit our company culture, and was a positive influence inside the company.

There was only one little problem Ken had:

Ken was performing horribly at his job.

Here’s the thing, there is no place an employee can hide in a small startup. The team loved Ken, but the team didn’t love Ken’s work ethic.

I had a choice to make: Keep Ken because he was a nice guy or fire him because he wasn’t doing his job.

If I kept Ken, then I was going to pay the price. How? Employees would leave and the board (Ken was an officer of the company) was going to get pissed.

The solution was simple: Ken’s work had to improve significantly or Ken would have to leave the company.

I decided Ken had to leave (Read: What's Your EQ And Why It Matters) You have the same choice to make. Either the employee’s work improves significantly or you need to let the employee go.

The backlash you fear should not be because you let a nice guy go.

The backlash you fear should be because you let an underperforming nice guy stay.

You need employees that fit your culture AND produce great work. Your culture, your team, any your company will pay the price if you don’t take action.

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