Letting people go

Letting go of people is usually the hardest part for any leader. Sometimes you hire people and you realize they are not a fit. Sometimes your growth stops or funding comes in later than anticipated – and you have to let people go. Whatever the reasons, it’s hard to do. And nobody is telling you how to do it as many of the founders shared with me. 

 

  1. Prepare the conversation well. The Why, but also your mindset
  2. Tell them 1:1 the decision you made, then give them a moment to breathe, and emotionally react. Only after that share the why and background
  3. Have an exit interview done by an external person you trust (and who shares the honest details with you)
  4. Communicate and take care of the rest of the team. The smaller the team, the bigger the impact and fears are. Address fears honestly and head-on. 

 

One thing I have seen with myself and many founders and entrepreneurs I worked with is that they wait too long to make decisions to let people go. Take decisions swiftly and take care of the rest of the team so they know why this person has to be let go. 

When you are forced to look at bigger downsizing, prepare very diligently you communication: 

  1. Focus on “Why” these changes are necessary for the company’s survival. 
  2. Communicate with the people affected in 1:1 settings. 
  3. Paint a clear picture of the future ways. Be honest about numbers and how the restructuring helps to move forward. Clarify old and new responsibilities.
  4. And then reassure the rest of the company that this is the only change you see for now (and then stick to it). 

Rather have one big disruption and then let things settle again instead of continuously muddling around with everyone in limbo over an extended period of time. Look for guidance, support, and practice as these are critical leadership moments that also define how the rest of the team trusts you in the future.

Miguel Baumann coaching blog
Hi, I am Miguel

I support leaders in tech to shine with confidence and take charge of their careers.

Continue reading
  • Navigating the Scaling Process in your Startup
    Published On: 2 June 2024By

    Strategies to Scale Your Team Often, Founders scale their teams for the first time. They hear of fantastic growth rates, and have VC pushing for hockey-stick metrics and headcount as measures for growth. The main task for entrepreneurs in the scaling phase is to continuously align with everyone. Change brings …

  • How to Adapt to Different Phases of Growth in your startup
    Published On: 2 May 2024By

    Building and guarding a strong company culture Everything you do is reinforcing or destroying your company's culture. Even if you did not set one intentionally, it is created implicitly and it is strong and sticky to change it later on.  One example of company values of “The Data Story” from …

  • Leadership Skills for Startup Founders: Effective Delegate to create Ownership in your tea
    Published On: 15 April 2024By

    Leadership in Action: Responsibility, Empowerment, and Delegation Letting go of what you built and put every ounce of energy you had into is hard. It's beyond hard. And yet, if you want to succeed, you need to start delegating decisions, ownership and even the things you know best. Otherwise, you …