The 45-Day Rule Great Leaders Follow Before They Let Someone Go

The 45-Day Rule Great Leaders Follow Before They Let Someone Go

John Eades 18/12/2023
The 45-Day Rule Great Leaders Follow Before They Let Someone Go

Letting anyone go is a decision that should be taken seriously and with great care.

Firing someone is one of the most gut-wrenching and difficult things any manager does in their career. Just the thought of a past experience being fired or firing someone creates a pit in most people's stomachs. 

As hard as firing someone may be, you should never delay firing someone who is toxic or if someone has an egregious act of misconduct. The boundaries must be clear and enforced regardless of person or position. 

Employees are fired for many reasons; in most cases, it's done for cause or some specific reason.

Top Reasons Employees Are Fired:

  1. Misconduct

  2. Poor Performance

  3. Attitude or Effort Issues

  4. Personality Conflicts

  5. Misuse of Company Resources

A survey from Airtasker showed the number one reason employers terminate an employee is because of attitude issues (57%.) However, before letting anyone go for poor performance or attitude and effort issues, remember the people you work with will never be perfect, so it's time to stop treating them like they should be. 

There is a widespread managerial concept if: hire slow and fire fast. While it's a good concept, it requires some tweaking. Will Guidara, the author of Unreasonable Hospitality (one of my favorite new books), said it well.  

Hire slow, fire fast - but not too fast. 

The approach that aligns with Guidara is called the "45-Day Rule," and it does just that. 

Special Note: 

Job termination is different from a layoff which typically occurs when an employee is let go because of a lack of work or to ensure profitability. 

The 45-Day Talent Rule 

The 45 Day Talent Rule states that after a leader considers whether someone is in the correct role, they have up to 45 days to decide. Within that time period, they will do the following:

  1. Communicate the Truth

  2. Coach Them Daily

  3. Provide Quality Feedback

The_45-Day_Talent_Rule .png

1. Communicate the Truth 

It's far too common for managers who have mentally made up their minds that someone isn't an excellent fit to ignore them to help justify their upcoming decision. I can't stand this approach because it's the easy way out.  

There is no denying the fact some people aren't the right fit. However, we owe it to ourselves and them to do what's in our power to help them succeed. That means they need the truth. 

All improvement starts with the truth. When it comes to talent-related decisions, communicating the truth is no different. Talented professionals deserve the truth when it comes to their future.  

All improvement starts with the truth

Now, there are different ways to communicate the belief that this person might not be in the proper role. But, regardless of what you say, it should always start with something like this: "I care about you as a person, which means I care about your performance. I am not sure you are in the right role, but I want to give you time to prove me wrong."

Opening up your conversation this way demonstrates that you are sharing the truth with them because you want them to be successful. 

2. Coach Them Up

Unfortunately, too many managers pass judgment on performance quickly and take no personal responsibility for their people's outcomes before deciding to terminate. Legendary Davidson College basketball coach Bob McKillop said on the 3 Things Podcast with Ric Elias, "Their faults are your failures."  

Their faults are your failures.

Whether you agree with Coach McKillilop entirely or not, his words have a lot of truth. Ensuring you are helping improve a team members faults, requires coaching skills. I wrote about tactics to be a more effective coach here, or you can join the upcoming Coaching for Excellence Workshop on April 11th at 10 AM EST.

If you don't choose either of those things, remember the development of team members should always be a priority, and coaching them should be a daily habit. 

The development of team members should always be a priority, and coaching them should be a daily habit. 

Seek out opportunities to help develop their skills and be conscious of asking great coaching questions instead of just giving them answers.  

3. Provide Feedback

Coaching and feedback are different things trying to achieve a similar result, and both are important during the "45-Day Rule."

Here are some general differences between coaching and feedback:



Deciding to retain someone or removing them to help them find a better fit elsewhere can be challenging. But you are in your role for a reason to make decisions like this. So have courage and use the "45-Day Rule" to help you make better decisions. 

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John Eades

Leadership Expert

John is the CEO of LearnLoft, author of, F.M.L. Standing Out & Being a Leader and host of the 'Follow My Lead' Podcast. He writes or has been featured on, LinkedIn Pulse,,, CNBC Money, and more. John completed his education at the University of Maryland College. 

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