It never feels good to fire someone, even when an employee deserves to be let go. You struggle with this decision because, regardless of the circumstances, your employee is a person with bills to pay, a life to lead and possibly, a family to support.
Should you reconsider and give the person a second chance? Or, is enough, enough?
Reasons to Hang On to an Employee
Giving a team member another chance to keep their job may be appropriate if:
They’ve committed a one-time offense that’s out of character for them. Begin by asking for details. If they’ve been calling off or tardy for work, they may be dealing with a personal crisis that needs to be resolved. Rather than terminating them on the spot, maybe you can offer resources or assistance. And, find out if you can make temporary arrangements, such as letting them work from home for a while so they can better balance their job with outside pressures.
The employee isn’t performing well in their current role but has other strengths valuable to your company. For instance, a person may be terrible at sales but have a natural knack for vendor relations. Try changing their duties to accentuate their positive attributes. This way, everybody wins.
When to Cut Ties
It’s probably time to let an employee go when:
• Their behavior continues to deteriorate, despite your best efforts to change it. If you reach a point where keeping a person in your employ would do your business more harm than good, it’s time to cut the strings.
• They have a negative attitude – all the time. Everyone has down days or even weeks. But if a person is constantly in a foul mood, it can take a serious toll on other team members, as well as customers. Consider a student conducted at Sears Roebuck & Company, which found that an improvement in employee attitude resulted in a significant earnings boost. The opposite can also happen.
• They undermine management authority. If an individual constantly bad mouths their superiors or refuses to do what is asked of them, then it’s probably time to make a change. You can’t expect a team member to agree with you 100 percent of the time, but if they continue to air their disagreements publicly or to the wrong people, this can potentially disrupt your entire workflow and morale.
Steps to Take
If you’re considering terminating an employee, here are some guidelines to consider:
• Figure out what happened. Things may not be what they appear to be.
• Check the worker’s personnel file. Find documentation that an employee was informed of the issues leading to possible termination and that they were given an opportunity to improve. Also look for any evidence of contracts that may limit your right to fire a person.
• Compare how you’ve treated others. If you’ve always treated employees by the same rules, you don’t have to worry. Otherwise, you may risk a discrimination claim.
• Document your decision. If you decide to fire an employee, document your action in an internal memo and add it to the person’s file.
• For additional guidance on issues such as employee termination – and to fill vacancies via consulting, contract or direct-hire means, turn to the TRC Professionals team. Read our related posts or contact us today to learn more.