You’re Fired!

How Do You Know It’s Time to Fire?

I tell my clients “hire slow….fire fast”. Firing someone is almost always gut-wrenching. Not just for the person getting the ax, but for you, too. Especially if you’ve just been through a painstaking hiring process (perhaps you need to work on the hiring system, but that’s another story). There are times when a team member is fired for legal reasons like theft.  Sometimes there are other, subtler signs that a certain team member is not the right match for your business and its culture. So many times we miss the signs or even worse ignore them because of the pending pain they bring. Here are 5 warning signs to watch out for with your team.

If the team member is…

1. Not Performing Up to Par

Firing a team member doesn’t always have to stem from an team member’s attitude problem or an immoral transgression. Lack of productivity is one major sign that a team member is not the right fit for the position. I put this at the top of the list because as a business owner, you must regularly monitor the productivity of each team member. This has nothing to do with the team member’s attitude or personality; rather it’s all about being sure you’re not wasting time and money having a team member who isn’t doing his job efficiently and economically. One thing to watch for: is the team member constantly seeking your help or the help of other team members? Especially after the allotted training period has elapsed.  Unfortunately, sometimes people are not cut out for certain jobs. Part ways quickly if this is the case.

2. Not Willing or Able to Adapt.

I tell clients “if your business isn’t growing… it’s dying”. As the business owner you must always be looking to the future and working toward making your business more profitable and sustainable. With growth comes a need to change and adapt. If you have team members who are not capable of growing with the business, then you must either let them go and find new team members who are up to the task, or spend more of your own time helping them adapt. This is one problem that requires judgment. Don’t misunderstand. As you grow, you will have to set up systems in which your team members are trained and allowed to grow. But after this “growth period” of training and adjustment, be wary of any team member who is still set in or revert to the old ways. These team members serve only as an anchor, many times resisting expansion. What to look for: is a certain team member showing signs of resentment when you introduce a new procedure or new addition to the business? Does she constantly remark how much better the old system was? Again, use your judgment with team members who are not willing or able to adapt. But beware of the damage an anchor can do to a ship if that ship is trying to leave the harbor. The same is true in your business.


3. Not Fitting into the Business Culture.

You don’t want a “staff”. You want a “team”.

Imagine you are the coach of a hockey team. Your center is a lightning fast skater. Your wings are geared up, ready to score goals, and your defenders are warmed up, prepared to keep any opponent away from the goal. Now imagine your goalie standing on the ice with no skates, dribbling a basketball. Extreme? Yes. But the point remains. You need a team that is always playing the same game with the same goals. That goalie might be the next starting point guard for the Cavaliers, but not the goaltender for the Blue Jackets. This is all to say that if you start seeing behavior that doesn’t put the business’ goals first, then that team member isn’t the right fit. You should first talk to the team member in question and be sure he isn’t misguided about the position’s expectations. Use your judgment to decide whether the team member has a different outlook than the rest of the team. What to look for: ask your other team members, or if you have a manager, consult with her to see if the team member is fitting in and functioning as a working member of the team.

4. Having Problems with Customers and/or Vendors.

Your team members often are the face of your business. Customer service is always the #1 priority and your team must uphold excellence in this matter. If you begin receiving complaints about a certain team member who is being rude or unhelpful, then it is time to considering replacing that team member with someone who is focused on the customers. Same goes with the vendors who bring the products to your business. Monitor all of your team members’ interactions with customers and vendors the best you can, and do not let any problem-causing team members hurt your business and your business’ reputation. There is absolutely no room for any team members to be causing problems. What to look for: customer complaints, complaints from other team members.

5. Lacking Integrity and Pride.

You must establish a level of integrity that each of your team members maintains. It’s part of your company culture. If you begin noticing an team member who is operating on the fringe, then the integrity of the whole team and your whole company for that matter is at risk. This is different than Sign #4 because the team member might be quite nice to the other team members and customers, but just as with Sign #3, if the team member doesn’t show pride in his work, then she might not be the right fit for the team. As your company’s leader you can prevent this from happening by being attentive and helping your team stay motivated by instituting certain incentives or rewards for excellence. Don’t hesitate to fire a team member who clearly doesn’t want to be working for you. There will always be plenty of candidates who would love a chance to grow with you and your business.

Remember: time is our most valuable asset. Don’t waste anyone’s time by keeping someone who isn’t fulfilling the duties which you hired him or her for.