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Fire Fast

By Gail Doby, ASID
CVO & Co-Founder, Gail Doby Coaching & Consulting & Design Success University

When faced with a problem employee or a problem client, don’t hesitate to cut them loose. It may be unpleasant to give someone the boot, but it’s nothing compared to the pain you’ll get if you wait until things really get out of hand.

An unhappy, disgruntled or incompetent employee can wreak havoc on your business. They may upset co-workers, suppliers or clients; cause delays or errors in projects; or possibly harm records, systems or other sensitive materials. Truth be told, you’re not doing them any favors by keeping them in a position and organization for which they are not a good fit. The sooner they move on, the sooner they can find something more suitable, and the sooner you can restore order in your firm.

Your procedures and policies manual should clearly spell out the conditions under which an employee can be terminated. In many states an employee can be let go “at will,” which means no prior notice is required. Nonetheless, it’s usually in the interest of both parties to make the termination as prompt, fair, clear, and amicable as possible.

With a problem client, you have a different set of issues. If they are being difficult or rejecting your designs and decisions, you can politely but firmly suggest they find another designer to work with. On the other hand, if the client is being hostile, accusatory, and/or refusing payment, you may need to obtain legal assistance or just be willing to walk away from a bad situation. In either case, don’t try arguing with the client. It will only make the situation worse and elevate your stress level.

Presumably, your contract or terms of agreement stipulate that you have the right to terminate your services with proper notice. Be sure to provide written notice, if that is required, and obtain proof that the client has received it.

Whether it’s an employee or client, there are always financial and emotional costs to terminating a bad relationship. The costs of not doing so, though, are even higher. And they go up the longer you wait.

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