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When and How to Cut Ties With an Employee That Isn’t Producing

Unproductive on black blackboard

When we are looking to staff our companies, we obviously want the very best of the best. Sometimes we can tell from the first meeting that someone is going to be exactly what we’re looking for. Other times, it isn’t as clear. There are qualities we look for in a new employee. However, we can’t be sure a new hire is going to work out until they’re actively working.

Of course, we all have different skills, methods, and ways of learning. A portion of your employees will pick things up quickly, needing little guidance once they’re shown the process. Another chunk will require a little more direction before catching on. Then there’s the individuals that demand more help than we have time to give. While we don’t want to give up on a person too soon, it’s important to know when to cut our ties.

An employer might grant a learning curve to someone that has otherwise good qualities. However, there comes a point where you need to assess if an employee is a good match for your business. So, what amount of time, and how do you know if it’s time, to bid farewell to someone?

It’s important to understand why someone you thought was going to be great, isn’t working out the way you anticipated. There are several possibilities why your employee isn’t catching on. When assessing an under-productive team member, consider the following:

  • When the employee was hired, did he/she have a full understanding of the job description?
  • Have you spoken with them to address and pinpoint the issues at hand?
  • Is there an open-door policy for employees to feel safe if they’re having difficulties?
  • If you’ve had a conversation (or more than one) with this employee about their struggles, was there a plan of action?

Terminating an employee is your next course of action once all other efforts have been exhausted. Be realistic and fair, not only to them, but to yourself. You’re not in the business of babysitting employees!

There will be instances where you just had the wool pulled over your eyes in the interview process. They talked a good game and sold you on what they wanted you to believe. The disappointing fact is that some folks are just lazy or not bright. Once you see that in a person, release them right away. Leaving an employee on the payroll longer than they deserve costs your business money. Not only that, but your frustration levels will be off the charts.

A final lesson in this experience is pinpointing if there were warning signs at the point of hire. Could there have been clues in the interview that may have predicted someone might not work out? Compare interview notes of those employees you’ve had to let go. This may give you indications of who to hire (or not) in the future.

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