Let Those People Go!

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4 Quick Questions:

  1. Do you have an employee or several employees who have been causing you grief for a while? Are they disruptive, unfriendly to others, not performing, and just generally a problem?

  • Do you find yourself looking at them saying to yourself, "why are they still here?" or "he is more trouble than he's worth", then returning to your work and doing nothing about it?
  • Are you are waiting for them to do that "one thing" so you can get rid of them on the spot? Or you need to hire someone first and how do you do that without them finding out?
  • Worse yet - you are afraid of being sued after you let them go?
  • Quite a conundrum you have here -- a situation that is difficult to get out of especially if you have accepted this person and their behavior for a long time (maybe a couple of years).

    So how do you deal with it? Carefully! And here are six steps to get you started.

    1. Keep your emotions in check. Don't wait until you just can't take it any longer - that's when the trouble really begins. Take a deep breath, sit back and objectively review their performance and/or attitude.

  • Bring the person in for a discussion. This will be difficult if it has been happening for a while but it still needs to be done. Sit down with them and review the last few weeks on what has worked and what needs to be improved. Don't go back further than that - you have waited this long and bringing it up won't make a difference.
  • Create a plan for improvement. Depending on how the discussion is received, work with the person to create a plan for moving forward. Do they need to have some new training or guidance? If the crux of the issue is their attitude, instruct them that the inappropriate behavior is to stop immediately. Be careful here: don't let it be "one strike and you're out". It does take time to improve and change behavior. Following the discussion, pay attention and notice if they are making an effort or not.
  • Start Documenting. If you have not done so previously it is now time to start putting it in writing and having the employee sign the document. Stress that it is not for their agreement, but acknowledging that the discussion and instructions took place. Keep the original for yourself and give the person the copy. If they refuse to sign the document, just give them the copy anyway and make a note, "employee refused to sign."
  • Be Consistent. For this process to be effective, you must be consistent. Each new occurrence needs to be discussed, not every other one, as soon as it happens. The fresher the memory, the more effective the discussion.
  • Start Now. I know that you have been meaning to do this for a while. That's what got you into this situation. So, there is no time like the present to get started. You will feel better once you do and it will become clear very soon if firing is truly the solution and you will have a firm foundation upon which to make the decision.
  • In the meantime, get started on finding a replacement so you will have little lost time if the improvement does not occur and the employee doesn't shape up.

    While most people want to be good at their jobs and succeed, make sure they understand what "success" means at your company - in other words your company's culture. You may come to realize they neither one of you is happy and, if that's the case, it's time to create a plan that works for both of you.

    Still unsure of how to start, contact us for some HR Solutions to get you on the right path without creating irreparable or expensive damage.

    Margaret Jacoby, SPHR, is the founder and president of MJ Management Solutions, a human resources consulting firm that provides small businesses with a wide range of virtual and onsite HR solutions to meet their immediate and long-term needs. From ensuring legal compliance to writing customized employee handbooks to conducting sexual harassment training, businesses depend on our expertise and cost-effective human resources services to help them thrive. This article first appeared on the MJ Management Solutions blog.

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