Here are the tales of two different contractors trying to come to terms with reality. Names have been changed to maintain confidentiality.
Larry has an employee, Bill, who has shown promise for several years. Bill is a good person who never quite does all that his position requires. Larry has created different plans over time to help Bill become a more effective employee. But none seem to create the desired change. Bill continues to work at Larry's company.
Michael has an employee, Perry, who has never quite been all that Michael was looking for. Several different strategies were tried. But Perry continues to not be the fit for the position he was hired for. Michael has come to terms with reality. He has decided to put Perry in a different position in the company, a position better suited for who Perry is.
Both Larry and Michael are dealing with the same challenge, which is to get real about whether or not an employee should stay or go. Bill and Perry, their respective employees, are genuinely decent people who just are not the right fit for their current positions. Larry and Michael have expended a lot of energy trying to figure out ways to make Bill and Perry successful.
At some point, the employer has to say "enough."
My guess is that some of you have been in the same place. I know it happened in our company more than once. A nice person who is just not the right person—how do you deal with that?
It's best to make a decision sooner rather than later. Both the employer and the employee—and all the other employees—know what is going on. Why avoid the obvious?
When we finally did take action, and either let the employee go or put them in a different position with clear expectations that had to be met by a certain time, everyone breathed a sigh of relief. Dealing with the situation cleared the air and freed up energy in the entire company, energy that had been wasted trying to figure out what was going to happen.
Remember that reality is the way it is and not always the way you want it to be. Sometimes it is best to just say "go."