As an entrepreneur and leader, it is your job to keep a productive and healthy environment for all your employees, even if sometimes that means firing someone. If you don’t know where to start, here are five things you need to follow before firing an employee.
Regardless how outstanding your company culture is, a time will come when you will have to deal with a problem employee. You probably already know the person who I’m talking about. That individual will constantly complain about everything, divide employees and even go as far as playing political games.
It’s a given that not every complainer is wrong. Actually, sometimes there’s a grain of truth which leads to a conflict. In other situations, these employees are just individuals who spoil the rest of your team by spreading negativity and damaging the employee morale beyond repair.
As a leader, it is mandatory you learn the difference between employees who like to complain and the toxic ones. Determine if the complaints of the employees are aimed at the organizational issues or personal gripes. Moreover, see if he provides any types of solutions or if he prefers to go behind your back. By finding the right answers for these dilemmas you are able to spot the difference between a frustrated employee who only has the best interest of the company at heart and someone who only wants to create waves.
If the employee fits the profile of the latter, you are probably wondering what you should do. And to minimize the worrying process and be 100% sure that you are making the right call, you should probably take a closer look at the following 5 steps before sacking a problem employee.
1. Allocate some of your time for a one-to-one talk. When you find out that an employee has started engaging in office politics, invite him or her for a talk explaining that you want to clear thing up. Tell the person that your door is always open or if he or she doesn’t accept the invitation, go ahead and take the person out to lunch. You will need to be honest with that person and try to make him or her understand what you have observed lately or what you overheard.
The main thing to remember is that this is the place to where the conversation starts. Moreover, you need to offer him or her your undivided attention and listen to what the employee has to say. Often, misunderstandings and unnecessary confrontations arise when you don’t have your facts straight or when you haven’t heard all sides of the story. Plus, it’s your job to motivate the team and being open for conversations with your team members is a must.
2. Set in place an Action Plan. When the meeting has run its course, you need to create a plan on how to improve things. Both of you are invested in the company so there is no reason why you shouldn’t try and find a solution that is beneficial not only for your business, but also for all the parties involved. Schedule a meeting in a month or two and see what progress has been made.
3. Make sure to take corrective action. Sacking an employee, especially one of your best performers should always be the last thing on the agenda. This decision should be considered as a last resort. You need to remember that the individual’s livelihood and the life quality of his family lie in your hands. That’s why it is necessary to address the situation that is being described and not the current situation.
Use corrective action as a means to prevent this type of problems from happening to any of your employees, even if that translates into removing a perk or creating brand new employee guidelines. For example, you could certainly implement a no-politics policy and work on ensuring a higher level of transparency within your enterprise. Some companies even go out of their way and implement anonymous management reviews and 360-degree employee review process. Taboo questions should not prevent your employees from hiding things from you.
4. Take a step back and regroup. Make a point out of meeting again. Has the plan worked? Did every employee do his/her job to make some positive and significant changes? In my opinion, this is the most significant telling point in an employee-employer dynamic. If you determine that the individual hasn’t registered relevant progress, then probably that person isn’t a good fit in the long run for your venture.
5. Take some time to reflect and focus on a positive attitude. If the individual did not hold his end of the deal, take some time to think about the next step you will take. Ask yourself questions like “If this individual wouldn’t be a part of your company, would this problem have surfaced regardless or is the individual to blame? Are you prepared to sack that person?” Finding an answer to these questions will help you localize the areas where you need to share responsibility for a certain situation and also offer you a clearer image that will aid you in finding out for sure whether you need to fire that individual or keep him/her.
As a final remark, I believe that people should be given second chances. Therefore, I always try to make things work. A small degree of negativity and office politics doesn’t and shouldn’t always end in termination, but as a leader and business owner, you have the job of having difficult conversations and making unpopular, yet necessary decisions that will keep the work environment both healthy and productive for your employees.
What do you normally do in these situations?