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When Firing Employees is the Only Option

When Firing Employees is the Only Option

As the CEO of your own company, it can be stressful to go through the hiring process. But it’s even worse when you have to go through firing employees. But, as in other parts of your business, if you have a plan in place with possible procedures, it will be much less painful.

Hire Slowly, Fire Quickly

One of the best pieces of advice that we at Pearl Collective often share is to “hire slowly and fire quickly”. “Hire slowly” means to have an organized procedure to follow when deciding to add to your team and also to have a clear onboarding process in place. That helps assure that when you do make that hire, they can easily move into their job and become an effective member of your team. A thorough interview and onboarding process is the first step toward making the need to fire an employee a rarity.

Reasons to Fire

So what are some good reasons (beyond the obvious!) to fire someone on your team?

Negative Performance and Attitude

It could be you discover that their performance is obviously and consistently lacking, or their attitude and work ethic has a negative effect on the rest of the team – along with your clients and vendors! It’s important that you take the time to meet with them and discuss the challenges, find out the “why” behind those challenges, find out if they are willing to make necessary changes and then work with them to help them improve.

There may be an underlying issue that they have not verbalized with you and once you are aware you might be able to offer a solution – as well as addressing how honest communication could be improved in the future. Maybe they are having challenges with child care or elder care and a more flexible schedule would help them improve their performance 

They may not realize the negative effect of their attitude. Or maybe you were not clear enough in the interview process as to what is expected of them. First meet with them and discuss these issues, as you are then giving them the opportunity to improve and grow professionally. If after addressing the issues and your expectations you see no improvement, but rather disinterest or defensiveness, it is obvious that it is time to let them go. 

It is also imperative that you document these meetings and any correspondence with the employee regarding their lack of performance or poor behavior. It is also important to have an attorney who can offer legal advice to be sure that you are handling the firing process in an appropriate way that does not conflict with any legal requirements.

Take Emotions Out of the Equation

You may hesitate to fire an employee because you like them, they really need the job, or maybe you blame yourself for not interviewing them thoroughly or not onboarding them effectively. But ask yourself: Can you afford to keep dead weight on the payroll just because you like them? Are they doing the job for which they were hired? If not and if you have tried to work with them to help them improve but there seems to be no change, it’s time to let them go. 

Another point to consider is whether they are negatively affecting your team or the relationship your firm has with clients and vendors. That is why Pearl Collective supports the motto “hire for attitude, train for skills”. In the interview process it is important to discover if they share your firm’s culture and values and have a positive attitude with a willingness to learn. Then you have to be sure the culture of your firm involves a willingness to offer the training that may be necessary.

Also consider 30, 60 and 90-day reviews with a new employee to be able to address any concerns you have but also questions and concerns that they have. Make sure you are willing, with any existing team members, to put in the time necessary for a positive onboarding process. That will go a long way toward assuring you are investing in a team member who wants to be a positive addition to your growing firm.

Document Everything

When you realize that an employee needs to be fired, be organized and well-prepared for the firing process but don’t drag it out. Have a plan of action for how their job will be covered until a replacement is hired and share that with the rest of the team once the firing process is completed. Have the documentation ready from your previous meetings with them in case you need to refer to it.

Also have the employment agreement and job description with their signature as it clarifies that they accepted the job with the expectations clearly outlined. Remember to keep it brief but concise and professional. You might share that you don’t feel that your firm is a good fit for them, and you might identify skills that they have that are positive but they would have a better opportunity to use them in another type of firm, another area of the industry, or another industry altogether. Try to give them positive feedback and advice that will hopefully help them grow professionally and you might suggest a type of job, firm, type of business where they could better apply their skills and find a more effective fit.

If you still hesitate to address employee challenges and possible firing, keep this advice in mind: “Dealing with employee issues can be difficult, but not dealing with them can be worse.” Paul Foster, CEO and Founder, The Business Therapist.

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