By Hugh Stewart
Knowing when to fire someone is a necessary skill for any business owner. Because I once acquired a business with a 200 percent turnover rate, I became very good at firing employees.
One of the lessons I realized very early in my entrepreneurial career is that the reasons for firing people generally fall into one of three distinct categories:
- a procedural issue,
- a behavioral issue, or
- misaligned intentions
When an employee is doing poorly, you must find the root cause. Do not start off by assuming that problematic employees are incompetent or that they are trying to steal. It can be hard to avoid thinking this way; as business owners, we tend to take our employees’ mistakes or non-performance very personally.
What you should do is evaluate whether they are performing procedures to a standard that is consistent with specifications. If they are not, consider retraining. Give them a space where they are told specifically what action is to be done, how to do it, and shown a level of proficiency in that task. Doing this usually leads to easy rectification of procedural issues.
If employees are having behavioral problems, there is a choice in remedial action depending on whether the issue is based on duty or culture. If it is duty related, reassign them to another area of work that is still within their unique ability. If it is a cultural issue, reassign them to another culturally different division or team (if one exists); sometimes people have personality conflicts, and there is just no way around it but to separate them.
If retraining or reassignment fails, and it appears that the employees’ intentions are misaligned with your own, then remove them. Simply recognize that they have the potential to be a great asset, just maybe not for you.
Hugh Stewart, founder and CEO of Confident Solutions Coach, has both a substantial education background and diverse entrepreneurial background. Stewart was not only a nuclear fuel designer, but he has created and operated more than 17 businesses in the past 10 years in industries such as money services, real estate, advertising, reinsurance consulting, and coaching.
Stewart seeks to help business owners who are struggling or simply wish to move their business to the next level. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or sign up for a free business consultation here.
Originally published: Sep 21, 2011