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Monica Wofford, CSP, is a leadership development expert and author of Contagious Leadership and newly released, Make Difficult People Disappear.

When do YOU Know it’s time to let them go?

When conducting training for one of our corporate clients, I share with leaders a concept about letting difficult people go. Sometimes, it’s necessary to “free them up new opportunities to grow elsewhere”. This advice is not meant to be sarcastic, but serves as a reminder that leadership can involve some tough calls. But how do you know when to make that call? How do you know when it’s time to let the difficult people go? Here are five signs.

Being Around Them is Exhausting

Instead of feeling energized by those you lead and work with, you feel emotionally drained most of the time. They seem to always have something to complain about, or just have a negative outlook on just about everything. The people you surround yourself with at the office, where you spend most of your waking hours, should cause an energy lift, instead of drag you down.

You Can’t Be Yourself

Think George Carlin in Vegas and George Carlin on PBS. It’s one thing to modify your style for a temporary situation and quite another to change who you are for the duration. George Carlin wouldn’t have specialized in PBS Specials because he couldn’t have been himself, but crowds filled Vegas theatres when he was himself. Those who follow you for you will always be more productive than those who resent your style but force themselves to follow you anyway.

There are Constant Misunderstandings

Communication is crucial to leadership. In fact, communication is contagious and misunderstandings spread into frustration, fear and a failure to perform. If you find you’re consistently frustrated with the messages you send and receive, this “difficult” person would be well served by a new leader and you well served by someone who understands what you and they need to succeed.

You Leave Them Out of the Loop

If you find that the difficult employee you work with is someone that it is easier to avoid than include and you continue to leave him or her out of the loop on a project or assign to someone of even lesser skill, to avoid the interaction, this is a clear sign that it’s time to let them go.

The Cons Outweigh the Pros

Logically, you might create a list of pros and cons to determine your course of action. If the pros outweigh the cons, then “picking your battles” might be appropriate. If the lists are about even, coaching and counseling is certainly in order. If the cons outweigh the pros by a pretty large margin, it’s time to take a different course of action and do something about this problem versus looking at the list and having it, too, add to your frustration.

Bottom line? If the energy you spend in “dealing” with this person far outweighs the value of the results they provide, then you are allowing a time drain and energy strain that is reducing productivity faster than you can motivate others to elevate it. Freeing them up will allow you both to be happier and likely more productive.

I’m Monica Wofford, and that’s your Monday Moment. Have a great Monday, an even better week and of course, stay contagious!

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