How to Fire Someone from Your Team
At first glance, this might seem like a strange post. But you’d be surprised how often I’ve gotten asked how to let someone go from a team.
The challenges worship leaders face can be complex.
Sometimes the answers are cut and dry. Other times, it’s up to us to make a difficult decision and move forward, trusting we’re making the right one.
I know this sounds intense, but there may come a time when it’s necessary for you to let someone go from your team. If you have a good audition process in place, have trial periods for people on your team, and maybe even hold some “vision and values nights”, this shouldn’t happen often, but there may be times when it’s just not working out and you need to let someone go.
There are a wide variety of reasons you might let someone go from your team: relational dynamics, attitudes, or actions on the team that after repeated conversations aren’t changing, skill levels that are not progressing, too many schedule conflicts, chronic lateness, etc. For whatever reason, you have tried everything and you feel it’s time for a change.
This is not a decision to arrive at lightly. You want to walk in some honest fear of the Lord because you are dealing with people’s hearts here.
If you have gotten to a place where you feel you need to let someone go, here are 10 helpful tips:
Talk with the Lord for several months before you have the conversation. Make sure you feel peace about it and have asked God for creative ways to deal with it outside of letting the person go.
2. Talk to a leader.
Talk to a couple of pastors or leaders above you. Let them know what you’re thinking and planning to do. Seek their counsel.
3. Consider the heart.
First and foremost, you must consider the heart of the person being let go and not just what he or she has or hasn’t done on your team. No matter what damage may have been done on your team, the departing team member is going to continue living life, maybe ending up on another worship team or working with people in other contexts. How you have this conversation can either provide help or cause long-term damage.
4. Bring another leader in.
For the actual conversation, consider bringing in your associate worship leader, pastor, or another leader so it’s not just the two of you alone. But be sure they don’t feel ganged up on.
5. Fight for the person.
Let your team member feel that you’re fighting for his or her future, destiny, and calling. You’re not against him. You’re for him. You just won’t be serving on the same worship team in this season.
6. Be honest.
Don’t sugar coat this. Don’t lie. People will be able to see through it. If they don’t see it right away, many times they’ll come back weeks or even months later for a “follow-up conversation” about how you were wrong. Complete honesty will not only help them grow but give you the assurance that you’ve done all you can in the situation.
7. Point out strengths.
Point out things you love and things you’ve seen him or her excel at. This will provide encouragement and positive things to build on in the future.
8. Explain your reasons.
Make sure you clearly explain the reasons for letting this person go. It’s not necessary for your team member to agree with your decision, but you want to try to make sure he or she understands your reasons. This provides something concrete to work on improving moving forward.
9. Don’t throw away the relationship.
Make it clear that you’re not angry. A decision to part ways does not mean that you are at odds with one another. This person is still your brother or sister in Christ, whose future matters to you.
10. Honor them to the rest of the team.
Last but not least, when a team member has been let go from your team, you will need to let the rest of your team know as soon as you see them again. It is important that you do everything possible to be honoring in the way you talk about the departed member. I would try to avoid saying, “I let him go.” You can say that the person is moving on to something else, that you decided to part ways, or simply that he or she is stepping down. If your team presses for more information, maybe say that you didn’t see eye to eye on some things or that the fit wasn’t right, but avoid giving specific details, especially ones that would reflect badly on the person who is no longer on your team.
Asking someone to leave your team should be considered a last resort. You always want to work with people to correct issues rather than jumping to the conclusion that it isn’t going to work out. These decisions are best made with open communication, time, prayer, counsel, and above all, genuine concern for the heart of the person in question.
Huge thanks to my friend Jordan Vanderplate for letting me use this photo. Check out more of his work here.