by Rebecca Knight

Deciding whether or not to terminate an employee is hard. “It’s an emotionally difficult task,” says Jay Conger, a professor at Claremont McKenna College and coauthor of The High Potential’s Advantage: Get Noticed, Impress Your Bosses, and Become a Top Leader. The decision is especially tricky if the employee in question hasn’t violated any rules and isn’t egregiously underperforming — but is clearly falling short. “The default mode is to think that maybe this person will turn around,” he says. “So many managers have a tendency to wait and give the individual more leeway.”

But delaying a decision is ill-advised, says Patty McCord, the former chief talent officer at Netflix and the author of Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility. “Your goal is to build a great team that does great work,” she says. And to do that, “you need productive, engaged employees.” If one of them isn’t measuring up, you need to make a tough call. Here’s how to think it through.