I don’t think firing employees comes naturally to anyone. Many new leaders avoid making this tough call. But keeping a poor performer on staff is detrimental to your bottom line as well as your team’s productivity and morale.
Your staff knows when a teammate isn’t pulling his or her own weight, and that can lead to laziness (“If she can get away with that, why am I working so hard?”) and bitterness (“Why am I wasting my time working for an organization that doesn’t value my hard work any more than his under-performance?”). Furthermore, the longer you keep a poor performing employee on, the more respect you lose from your team.
If you have a poor performer on your team and have been avoiding pulling the trigger, follow these steps to take care of the problem and move on:
- Find the source of the performance problems. Discover whether your employee doesn’t understand the requirements, isn’t capable of doing the work or is choosing not to do the work well.
- Help the employee improve his or her performance. Give the person honest, direct feedback. Clearly define your expectations. Provide necessary training. Adjust your motivation techniques to his or her style.
- Document, document, document. Make notes about the employee’s performance and your feedback, especially regarding missed benchmarks.
- Recognize when enough is enough. If you’ve done everything in your power to help the employee but there’s no significant improvement, accept that the person just isn’t a good fit for your organization.
- Have a plan in place. Be prepared to delegate assignments so that the employee’s unfinished projects are covered. Make a list of items to collect from the person, including keys and equipment, and of any items that will need to be updated, such as passwords.
- Rehearse the meeting. Especially if this is your first time firing someone, don’t “wing it.” Plan exactly what you will say, where and when you will say it and who will be there, such as an HR representative.
- Remind yourself that this is the best decision for everyone involved. You’ve already determined that letting go of this employee will be better for your organization, the team and yourself, but keep in mind that it is also good for the employee. The person might not think so at the time, but you’re releasing him or her from a position of failure, which is inevitably diminishes self-respect. You’re giving this person an opportunity to start fresh.
You can avoid having to fire anyone, by managing employees’ performance from Day 1. Learn how with the Performance Management & Development Toolkit. This e-learning program teaches you how to solve some of the most common performance management, performance review and development headaches. Learn more now!