The decision to fire one of your employees for performance is a hard one. It may even keep you up at night. You may even be looking hard for ways to keep them or support them so you don’t have to ruin their lives by firing them.
But you have a responsibility to your organization, your other employees and the objectives of your own job, so sometimes you need to do things you don’t really want to.
Here are 3 questions you should ask yourself and then answer before making the decision:
Have you given them a chance?
Not only will your company have processes in place for dealing with performance problems, the laws and your ethics suggest you need to give the employee a chance to improve.
So, do they know of the specific performance problems and what they need to do about them? Have you helped them to improve or given them the tools or training they need?
What has been the results of your efforts and based on what you’ve done so far, is there any real possibility they can step up and perform to required expectations? If they can, then you might want to give them a little more time.
If it has become clear that without your constant involvement, they simply can’t do the work to the level of performance required, then you should consider firing them.
Could they be more successful in a different role or different company?
Sometimes the employee is simply not in the right company or in the right job.
If they are relatively new and performance has faltered from the beginning, it’s not their fault, they weren’t properly hired and should be somewhere else doing something else.
The next thing to consider is whether they could succeed within your company in a different position or should they be somewhere else completely. If they can be moved and be successful, try that first.
If performance has faltered over time, then perhaps something about their role or performance expectations has changed and they are simply not able to keep up. As long as you gave them a chance to adapt and meet the new expectations, perhaps it is time for them to find a job somewhere else where they can be successful, so you should consider firing them.
Is managing them distracting you from other important things?
While managing employees is part of your job, if you are spending a disproportionate amount of time with an under-performer, you are neglecting your overall responsibilities.
Spending time with an under performer is wasted unless they have shown improvement and clearly can get to the level you need. You are likely to get better results applying your time and effort elsewhere rather than trying to prop up a non-perfomer.
So, instead of taking extra time to fix an existing problem with an employee’s performance, fire them and hire someone else who is better suited for the job. The time you spend recruiting someone and then providing training and orientation will be worth it in the long run.
Even with severance costs to cushion the impact on the employee you’re firing, it is cheaper in the long run to fire them and bring in someone who can perform without sapping your time and energy, both of which can be better used to further develop successful employees who contribute to your organization’s success.