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When Is It Time to Fire an Employee? Use these three tests to decide if it's time to terminate a staffer.

By Adam Bornstein

This story appears in the December 2018 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Federico Gastaldi

Q: My company is small, and every team member seems necessary. How do I know if I need to fire one? --Ben P., Florida

Nothing is worse than having to fire an employee. But for business owners, there is nothing more important than removing employees that are disruptive to your mission. This is a lesson I've learned over and over again. When I've leaned on kindness and given people the benefit of the doubt, it's often led to a greater investment of time and resources spent on employees who, ultimately, were just not worth it.

There's a popular axiom that suggests you should hire slow and fire fast. That's great in theory, but I've never found it especially practical. Hiring slow can cause you to miss out on potentially valuable employees (if they're that good, others will want them, too), and firing fast can turn your business into the type of corporate morass people avoid. Instead, firing should be about knowing the principles of your business and making sure you establish standards to measure the value and purpose of every employee -- whether you have one or 100.

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