Odds are you don’t enjoy having to fire a member of the team. For the most part, you’re interested in employee retention. Oh, sure, every now and then it’s an easy call and you can’t wait to see the back of someone, but most of the time it’s a difficult decision you’d prefer to avoid. It’s also an event that can have legal ramifications for the company if the employee believes they’ve received unfair treatment.
It’s important to ensure that the employee gets what’s expected of him or her. Make sure the instructions you provide are specific and that the criteria for their successful execution are clear to the employee. It takes time to make sure employees understand what you expect them to do.
While you may empathize with an employee for personal issues that make it hard for the employee to perform, your responsibility is to remove any systemic obstacles to his or her success.
Make sure there’s nothing in your policies or procedures that is unnecessarily holding them back. Common roadblocks include overlapping schedules, redundant or excessive paperwork, and a lack of resources needed to get the job done.
It’s important that your employee has been given adequate training in how to perform their tasks. It may be that they need more instruction and/or time to practice their skills — you may want to consider hiring an outside instructor if the complexities of teaching an employee how to do the job are too time intensive for you.
Adequate financial compensation is obviously important, but behavioral reinforcement is also critical.
Have you been encouraging strong performance with recognition of good work — being specific about what you appreciate and how it helps the company — and have you been offering helpful, empathetic corrective feedback as needed?
Being too positive all the time minimizes its impact and can affect your personal credibility; being too negative just makes you unpleasant to work for. It’s best to strike a balance when it’s possible.
Not every employee is built for certain kinds of physical work as part of their job. They may simply be unable to perform heavy lifting, for example.
It’s also a fact that not everyone has equal cognitive powers — it may be that a person’s responsibilities are just too intellectually difficult for them. There’s no shame in this; we each have our weaknesses and strengths.
And somewhere between physical and mental fitness is having the ability to focus to the degree the job requires. Some people just can’t concentrate sufficiently.
Note that if you answer “no” to this question, maybe you can find the employee another position at the company better suited to their abilities.
If the answer to all five of these questions is “yes,” you’re being a good boss, and you’ve done all you can. It’s likely the employee’s issues stem not from an inability to perform their job, but from a lack of willingness to do so. You can feel with some confidence that it’s time for this person to move on.