Firing an Employee – Explore Your Options
When an employee grows difficult for you and others to work with, you might be tempted to terminate the person as quickly as possible. You’re better off salvaging the situation if you can, though. Hiring and training a replacement always takes time and effort you can invest in more worthwhile tasks. Explore these options before firing an employee:
- Check your attitude. Have you accidentally slipped into an adversarial, “me versus you” role? Remember, as a leader, you must bring people together. If you’re insisting that you’re right and the problem employee is wrong, you could be overlooking potential solutions.
- Check for fit. Does the employee feel mismatched in his or her job, or in your organization? If you don’t ask, you might waste time trying to solve the wrong problem. Find out whether the employee might be better suited to a different position—or if he or she is completely unhappy working for your organization.
- Dig at the roots. Don’t focus strictly on the here and now. Look at past behaviors and the history of the problem over time. Has a similar situation arisen before? What did people do about it? Does the employee have a history of being difficult, or is this a recent change in behavior?
- Investigate resources. Does the employee have all the tools and training that he or she needs in order to do the job? If not, frustration can turn the person into a difficult worker. Talk to the employee and to others who work in similar jobs. The employee may not be aware of all the resources he or she really needs.
- Look beyond the person. People rarely turn into problem employees all by themselves. Investigate to find out what’s influencing the person’s behavior—personal problems, resentment at being passed over for a promotion, boredom—to see what you can change.
- Consider the domino effect. Take some time to think about who the termination might affect. People will be watching how you handle the situation. If they think you’re not being fair, they’ll remember it for a long time.