Why You Shouldn’t Hesitate to Fire a Top-Performing Employee

When your top producer is killing your culture, they simply have to go.

Our top salesperson had consistently exceeded their monthly quota for three months and just brought in the largest deal in company history–they were a sales rock star. Three weeks later, we had to part ways. Why?

Because they were a jerk.

At my company, we hire and fire by core values and one of these is “No A**holes.” This employee was helping our business immensely but they were bringing the rest of the team down with their behavior at work.

When your company is struggling to hit numbers and this kind of employee is bringing in 25, 50, 75 percent of your revenue, it can feel like a tough decision: keep my business afloat or let go the person that makes everyone miserable.

Three reasons why I wouldn’t hesitate to let them go:

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1. It invalidates your core values.

Most companies have words on a wall in their office because they’ve been told that they need core values, a mission statement, a North Star to be a successful company. All of these are critical to building a winning team and a successful company, but many of these companies actually put money above everything else.

If you have words on a wall that stand for teamwork, integrity, and kindness but employ someone that does not reflect these values, then your company doesn’t really stand for anything.

You can’t just talk the talk, you have to walk the walk, and that means hiring and firing by your clearly defined values, even if the employee is a top producer.

2. It causes good people to quit.

With low unemployment numbers, it’s a job seeker’s market, so why would an employee at your company stay when they have to deal with a jerk on a regular basis? They wouldn’t. That’s why it’s important to remove the individual from your team before you start seeing a mass exodus.

3. It hurts your bottom line.

This seems like false logic, as they might be bringing your company the most revenue, but when their attitude and behavior is impacting the rest of your team, it brings down morale. When employees are engaged and happy at work, you see business results. Having a jerk on your team is a sure way to disengage your workforce and see your numbers plummet.

And for my company, after we let that person go, we lost many of the clients they brought on. The sales that team member made weren’t qualified sales.

Losing their monthly revenue and losing the customers they brought on was painful, but it was a short-term issue. Our business was far better off in the long run as we were able to hire someone just as great for our company that truly embodied our core values.

The next time you’re having a debate about the merits of money over core values, do the right thing for your business and part ways with the jerk.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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