When the Decision Is Easy but the Implementation Is Hard

A founder asked me for some feedback because he’s not sure what to do. He has a team member who isn’t pulling his weight. If he keeps the team member, a critical part of the company will continue underperforming. The team is small, fewer than ten people, and everyone, including the founder, is stretched thin. If he parts ways with the team member, he will have to do this person’s work until he finds a replacement.

After more conversation, this founder acknowledged that he’s wanted to let this team member go for some time but has avoided it. He isn’t sure how he’d manage his current workload, do this team member’s work, and recruit a replacement simultaneously.

This is a common early-stage founder dilemma. The founder knows what he needs to do but isn’t sure how to do it. Said differently, the decision is easy, but the implementation is hard. I was in this exact same position as a founder. I learned that it’s better to rip the Band-Aid off and deal with the pain than to let the problem linger and turn into a bigger one. Taking on the departed team member’s work wasn’t ideal, but it better prepared me to train the next person and motivated me to get the right person in place so I could reduce my workload.

When faced with an easy decision but onerous implementation, I learned that delaying the decision isn’t feasible and can make bad situations worse. I needed to make the tough decision and view its implementation as a learning experience. Just as I’d figured out other seemingly impossible parts of entrepreneurship, I could figure how to navigate the side effects of decision-making too. Ironically, when it was done and I was on the other side of it, I realized that anticipating going through with decision had been way worse than doing it. I always wished I hadn’t waited so long (especially with personnel changes)!