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The Science Behind Firing an Employee

Article | April 15, 2019

You may know you need to fire an employee but keep finding excuses not to. Here’s how that can affect your business.

Most of us are good people. We all have similar values, we all want to do the right thing, we all want to get along and see the good in others. We want to be liked, respected, and give others repeat chances. This is human nature.

However, this human element that can prove disastrous for an entrepreneur. That good-guy spirit controls so many of our actions. As a result, the vulnerability posed by this natural instinct can cause many an entrepreneur to put up with destructive behavior that can destroy the workplace environment.

Timely response from you is critical. If the employee doesn’t make a comeback in performance after being put on notice, you must replace that person, quickly, without procrastinating, says Entrepreneur.

Whether you employ a few people or 30, there’s always that one person who just isn’t a good fit. That person is a distraction, causing dissension and problems with others, and generally preventing real progress from happening. They simply don’t fit in, and their negativity will eventually kill your business if you allow it to continue. When challenges threaten the day-to-day operations of your business, endlessly facing the same roadblock can threaten your bottom line.

The feelings behind giving this employee repeat chances are understandable. After all, you hired that person and made a commitment to them. You invested time and training into them. Heck, you may even like that person. Your feelings may compel you to keep giving them chances, looking the other way, and ignoring their bad attitude.

In the process, you start to compromise your own standards, the standards of your other employees, and indeed those of your company — all to give that one person a break. In turn, they keep breaking the rules and you keep making exceptions. By giving the offender 10, 12, 15 chances, you begin to allow the foundation of your company to erode.

You may know there’s a problem and want to fire the employee but the instinct in you keeps making excuses: He’s having problems at home, his wife isn’t working, or he has three kids in private school.

Here are some steps to get you out of your own way:

  1. Face the truth: some people just aren’t going to be a team player.
  2. Come to terms with an even bigger truth: One bad apple can indeed spoil the bunch.
  3. Talk with other employees about culture and fit.

Company Morale Takes a Hit

One person can bring down the morale of the whole company, destroy the quality of your operation, and make it so uncomfortable for others that even the good, hard-working people want to leave. Are you willing to compromise the business you’ve worked so hard to build just to save a difficult conversation with an employee who isn’t a good fit?

Here are some important reminders to consider:

1. Honor Your Business

It’s emotionally unsettling, challenging and uncomfortable to fire someone. No one wants to do it. Most of us fire as a last resort, way after we really should have. But the bottom line is, you’re not protecting your business if you allow this negative behavior to infect the company.

According to Business Insider, “Your first step is to warn them that their performance is not meeting standards, that they are risking termination and the steps they can take to change. If they fail to improve, you need to let them go.”

Firing them is not mean-spirited, it’s not malicious, and it’s not violating your terms or standards. Rather, it’s honoring your business and the rest of your employees. Remember, get rid of the apple soon, without hesitation, before the whole bunch spoils.

You’re not offering a social service. It’s not your job to train someone to be a better person or change who they inherently are. It’s your job to run a successful business. If someone is interfering with that goal, end it before it ends the business.

2. Remember it’s a two-way street

If it’s not a good fit for you, it’s not a good fit for them. Have a heart to heart with the employee. Acknowledge that the fit isn’t working. Say something to the effect of “I’m sure you’re uncomfortable here because I’m uncomfortable. So I am going to free you to go pursue the job you really need to succeed and finally be happy.”

A funny thing will likely happen: you may be met with agreement and relief. They may concede with “You’re right, I’m not happy. Thank you for the opportunity you have given me.”

3. Your employee pool knows before you do whether a person is the right fit.

Your other employees are aware of the troublemakers who cause distractions or of incompetence. They’re watching how management deals with that person. A lot of opinions form depending on how employees feel about their own relationship with management.

For example, if management looks the other way and ignores bad behavior, bad behavior will expand like a disease and the employees will lose respect. Alternatively, if the management treats a problem employee with respect and fairness and removes that employee quickly, appropriately, and fairly the rest of the employees will get the signal that they will be removed in similar circumstances. Fairness, courtesy and respect are crucial.It creates confidence and reliability.

In the end, it’s critical to be respectful to your business and to your employees by ridding your community of those who aren’t fitting in. According to Inc., as a leader, it’s your responsibility to have the difficult conversations and make the necessary decisions to maintain a healthy and productive environment for all employees.

Protecting your business starts with defending a strong financial foundation. Need help with business debt settlement and restructuring as you continue to grow your business? Second Wind Consultants can help.

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