“So long as some are strong and some are weak, the weak will be driven to the wall.” – W. Somerset Maugham (The Summing Up, 1938)

Yesterday, we talked about the importance of firing people.

If you make pruning — getting rid of your weakest employees — a regular habit, your company will be stronger, your growth more assured, and your profits more substantial. Besides all that, your employees — those you keep — will be happier because they won’t have to carry the weight of the laggards.

If you have determined to start culling your forces, here are some tips on how to do so gracefully and efficiently:

  1. Keep a secret list of your strongest and weakest employees. Try to be as inclusive as possible. Include not only your own opinions but also the opinions of others.
  2. Provide recognition and encouragement to the strongest employees and encouragement and instruction to those on the bottom of your list.
  3. Several months before you make cuts, give formal warnings to those who are in danger of losing their jobs.
  4. Consider making all your cuts at the same time every year. That might coincide with giving raises and establishing your budget. That way, you can get a clear and quick idea about the total overhead burden you have and that which you should have.
  5. Make the cuts cleanly, quickly, and respectfully. Plan out what you want to say, say it, and then stand up and walk the person out the door.
  6. Good people deserve more than just a quick goodbye. Give them a fair severance package and strong recommendations.
  7. Don’t feel guilty about letting good people go. They will find work — hopefully with your competitors.