It’s not always easy to tell when it’s time to fire an employee, especially since the decision for termination typically only comes after you’ve tried everything possible to resolve issues with the employee.
If an employee has a good attitude and is a hard worker, you may want to keep putting in some effort to help the employee improve.
But if your problem employee’s bad attitude is affecting morale, hampering overall productivity, or garnering complaints from customers or vendors, it may be time to show the person the door — especially if the bad behavior keeps getting worse and worse in spite of all your attempts to correct it.
Is the Problem Employee Affecting Everyone’s Morale?
Of course, if you have a problem employee, chances are that employee will be suffering from low morale. But when that low morale spreads to other employees, it’s a sign that you need to consider letting the bad apple go. It can be almost impossible to boost team morale when a problem employee is bringing everyone down. Engaged, productive employees can begin to feel unmotivated and disconnected, and may lose the ability to focus on their own work. Problem employees often leave their co-workers feeling overburdened with their share of the work, causing negativity to bloom.
Is Overall Productivity Suffering?
If a problem employee’s lack of productivity is beginning to drag down overall productivity, it’s time to take drastic measures. Problematic employees typically suck up managerial resources, because they require extra help and attention that takes you away from other workers who also need you, and diverts your attention from other issues in the organization.
A bad employee may also impact productivity by taking coworkers’ attention away from their own projects when he or she asks for help or simply wants to gossip or vent. Good employees spend their time and energy working and being productive. Even if their performance isn’t always as good as you’d like it to be, a strong employee will still work hard, try his or her best, and maintain a positive attitude. They don’t waste time gossiping or complaining.
But even if your problem employee is putting forth a real effort, you may need to take steps if his or her work is causing delays or requires repeated revisions. Use your better judgment; there comes a point when the effort it takes to improve one person’s performance isn’t worth the time it costs the entire team.
Is the Employee’s Bad Behavior Getting Worse and Worse?
Like most employers, you’ll want to do everything possible to help an employee stay with the company instead of firing him or her. Most employees react to negative feedback by trying to resolve the issue and improve their performance. When an employee reacts to reprimands by continuing to behave badly or by demonstrating even worse behavior, it’s time to consider firing them.
When an employee doesn’t willingly take steps to improve his or her work when asked, there’s a good chance it’s because he or she doesn’t want to improve. Perhaps the employee no longer cares about the organization or has lost pride in his or her work. Whatever the reason, that isn’t the kind of worker your company needs.
Are Customers or Vendors Complaining?
Most companies need to keep their customers happy, but that isn’t going to happen if you have a problem employee fouling up the final product. Your company’s success also depends on keeping your vendors satisfied, so don’t allow a poor performer to tarnish those vendor relationships you’ve worked so hard to build. If either your customers or your vendors start complaining about a problem employee’s attitude, actions, or work, you may want to terminate the employee sooner rather than later.
It’s not always easy to tell when it’s time to fire an employee. There’s usually hope for an employee with a good attitude and a solid work ethic, even if his or her performance is suffering. You may be able to work with such an employee to make him or her into a star member of the team, or at least bring his or her performance up to acceptable levels. But if a problem employee is affecting overall productivity or morale, or drawing complaints from vendors or customers, it’s probably time to let that person go. While it’s never easy to fire someone, chances are good you’ll both move on to better things after the deed is done.