Blog Post

5 Signs It's Time to Fire Your Employee (And How to Do It with Respect)

Suzanne Lucas

Founder, Evil HR Lady

Every manager and every HR person has to fire someone at some point. It's generally unpleasant—and rarely similar to the movies, where the employee has done something so spectacularly wrong, you can just yell "You're fired!" and everyone feels good about the decision.

Instead, the signs of an unfit employee are often more subtle, making it hard to know when to take that final step. If you're thinking an employee isn't working out, here are five signs that it's probably time to let the person go:

1) The employee makes repeated mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes and most mistakes aren't reason enough to terminate someone's employment. But, if you find yourself addressing the same mistake over and over again — and the employee isn't responding to your feedback — it's time to get serious.

2) The employee is a bully. I don't care how good her work product is, if she's bullying others, it's time to get her out of the office. Bullies are toxic employees that will wreak havoc on your organization—in fact, toxic employees make good employees 54 percent more likely to quit.

3) The employee ignores office rules and norms. Some offices thrive on flexibility, and others are structured and rule based. If everyone else is in at 8:00 and this employee wanders in whenever—and this causes problems—it's time to talk.

4) The employee is blatantly unhappy. Yes, you should try to make everyone happy, but some people just can't be fixed. If someone is miserable, they pull the rest of the staff down.

5) The employee just isn't capable of doing the job. This is not talking about mistakes in one area, but an utter inability to do the work needed. Sometimes this happens as the job evolves over time.

Before You Say "You're Fired"

So, if your employee fits one or more of these five descriptions, should you simply collect their keycard and hand her the last paycheck now? No. Here's what to do first:

1) Make a formal Performance Improvement Plan (PIP). If an employee is struggling for any reason, the manager and the HR person should sit down together to come up with a plan. PIPs are usually 90 days, but you can work it out to be shorter or longer, depending on the problem. For instance, if the problem is attendance, making it a "if you're late 3 times in the next month, you're out" PIP is fine. If it's a "you need to learn 14 new systems" situation, a 180 day plan may be more appropriate.

2) Sit with the employee to go over the detailed plan. You need to explain to the employee exactly what is expected and ask her to sign it. If she balks, remind her that signing doesn't necessarily state that she agrees with it, just that she acknowledges that she has received it and that she understands the consequences. She may not agree that blowing off meetings is a big deal, but she's not the boss.

3) Follow up regularly with the employee. Some managers make the mistake of making a PIP and then not saying anything until the 90 days is up. Don't do this. You should be having weekly meetings with your employee to track progress. It should be obvious to the employee that she should start job hunting if things are not going well.

4) At the end of the PIP, fire or end it. While it may be hard to say "Today is your last day," it should be obvious whether you need to or not. If the person has not met the terms of the PIP, then you need to terminate him or her. If the person has met the terms of the PIP, congratulate them and end the PIP.

If you follow these steps, it will be clear when it's time for someone to go—and hopefully this helps improve your office culture, productivity and peace of mind.

Photo: Creative Commons

Related Resources

Want to keep learning? Explore our products, customer stories, and the latest industry insights.

Empowering Employees by Learning & Development at Amplifon

On-demand Webinar

Video

Customer Story

Empowering Employees by Learning & Development at Amplifon

Learning and development strategies must continue to evolve in the ever-changing world of work. Training and development provide employees with a softer landing into change, and the introduction of digital learning and development platforms allowed employees a smoother transition into a new style of work. Amplifon created a learning and development strategy that is hyper-personalised and skills-focused, allowing their people and their entire organisations to become more agile and adaptable. Amplifon invested not only in learning and development content but also in strengthening the global network and collaboration across geographies and functions, to encourage an equal sense of belonging across the entire organisation. Amplifon created a learning and development strategy that is hyper-personalised and skills-focused, allowing their people and their entire organisations to become more agile and adaptable. Amplifon invested not only in learning and development content but also in strengthening the global network and collaboration across geographies and functions, to encourage an equal sense of belonging across the entire organisation.

Howdens shares how they grew learning by over 500% in one year

Video

Howdens shares how they grew learning by over 500% in one year

Charlene Jackson, HR & Payroll Systems Lead, shares how Howdens moved from traditional classroom based training, to grow learning by over 500% in just one year through the introduction of a simple, modern user experience, accessible from any device.

4 tips to managing diversity and gender equality in your company

Blog Post

4 tips to managing diversity and gender equality in your company

If you want to generate success in your company and work in a harmonious environment, then you need to consider each and every one of your employees, get to know their interests, and offer them the best treatment and commitment. However, one of the most important principles that should be commonplace in every organisation is the equal treatment of employees (regardless of gender, race or religion). Gender, for example, should not be a factor that influences how we treat our workforce. Having a gender equality policy shows employees that they are valued and that the company is serious about ending discrimination. Having a fair remuneration policy that is not distinguished by the employee’s gender, but by their job position and their development within the company is an important step towards gender quality too. Opt for a gender-diverse workforce Having more gender diversity in a company is very positive and not just for the company’s own benefit. In fact, the UK could boost its GDP by 9% if the female employment rates matched with Sweden’s for instance. The challenge for HR departments is to successfully and strategically find and enrol more women in their business. It could solve a real problem, breaking barriers of gender discrimination in the workplace and promoting equality within the company. Equality between your workers is essential It is important to not only review the salaries of your employees, but also other professional aspects such as career plans and promotions, ensuring that there are equal opportunities for both men and women. Equality will undoubtedly be a motivational element for employees, regardless of their gender, as having clear objectives is a contributing factor in maintaining employees’ interest levels Strike a balance between work life and family life Fostering harmony between work and family life is key to attracting and retaining talent. It can contribute to the company culture, and to a positive attitude and collaboration amongst employees. Another important point is not to make sweeping generalisations about different genders, and instead to consider the specifics on a case by case basis. Employees need to see that their family life is considered and respected. They will appreciate this and it will likely improve company loyalty in the long run. HR must ensure gender equality in their company HR’s role is essential in managing and promoting gender diversity within the business. They must ensure that the motivation and commitment of their employees is strengthened, which, in turn, strengthens the workforce overall and benefits the entire company.

Schedule a personalised 1:1

Talk to a Cornerstone expert about how we can help with your organisation’s unique people management needs.

© Cornerstone 2022
Legal