First, I still believe patience is a virtue, though I have been accused of being too patient from time to time. Guilty, as accused.
Terminating someone is not a fun activity, any way you slice it. It is painful for both the firer and the firee. The firing process takes years off the lives of each, and generates tons of stress for both. However, from time to time, it's a necessary evil.
My decision points for that conclusion lie in the answers to two questions I ask myself about that employee:
- Is he/she able to get better?
- Is he/she willing to get better, at a speed I can live with?
If the answer to both questions is "yes," then that employee gets my redoubled effort to help them get better, or to reassign them to a position that better fits their skills set.
If the answer to either of those questions is "no," then I begin to diligently coax/coach/entice/encourage that person to seek employment elsewhere. Notice that I didn't say I would immediately fire them.
Firing only occurs when all means of a separation that affords both parties a modicum of dignity have been exhausted.