A question I am often asked from small business owners is—
How do I know whether to fire or keep an employee who is not performing?
If you are an employer with this same inquiry, here is a set of questions that you should ask yourself before deciding to terminate an employee.
Did the employee fail to meet performance measures?
Not to worry—it isn’t uncommon to not have an exact answer to this question. I am sure that as a small business owner (or manager), you are extremely busy. Plus, you may not even be aware of what it is exactly, your employee(s) do all day and that is okay. However, if this is the case, it is time to establish a proper performance review process. I am suggesting this because without a proper system in place, what are you actually basing your concerns on and have you been clear on expectations?
Have you supplied the employee with specific feedback and coaching?
Many small business owners believe they provide a sufficient amount of regular feedback and coaching for their employees; however, this isn’t always the case. For instance, when speaking to others, many of us make the assumption that the person we are speaking to understands our goals and what we are trying to accomplish. Combined with the fact that there are various methods of interpretation, it is no wonder miscommunication is a common occurrence within the workplace. As an employer, refrain from being vague and don’t assume certain things are obvious to your employees. Remember, the only obvious points are those you make crystal clear and literally spell out for your employees.
Have you provided development actions to help the employee improve?
What are development actions?
If you are dealing with a poor performing employee, implementing a performance improvement plan (with development actions) can help coach an employee through changing a behavior or improving a skill. Development actions should be well documented as they are meant to serve as a reference to both the employer and employee. To be successful, an action plan should address and include:
- (Planning) steps & resources required to learn (or improve) a behavior/skill
- (Implementation) a plan for practicing the behavior or skill
- (Reflection) process for providing ongoing feedback
Having a development action plan for employees is a win-win because the process helps foster an environment that sets employees up for success. On the other hand, action plans help determine whether employees are suitable for their position and help provide a stronger case for if you must dismiss that employee.
How has the employee responded?
It is important to identify how an employee responds to suggestions for improvement. This is a key factor when deciding whether or not to terminate an employee. You want to retain motivated employees and terminate those that resist change, exhibit negative behaviors or consciously decide they don’t want to perform. Motivated employees generally want to grow with your business and prove to be quite valuable so—you don’t want to make the mistake of terminating their employment. Also remember that just because an employee may struggle within their current position, doesn’t mean they couldn’t be successful if given a different role.
Have you followed up?
Investing time to help an under-performer can pay off if the employee makes the necessary changes. On the contrary—if they prove to show little improvement any time that was, or will be spent trying to help, is a waste. This is why it so important that business owners make a conscious effort to follow up with underperforming employees.
Following up seems pretty standard but it is easy to for small business owners to become distracted by their busy schedules and as a result, neglect to follow-up. Don’t let this happen to you because the quicker you address underperforming employees, the better it will be for your business.
Also—bear in mind that while it is your duty to manage employees, you must know where to draw the line. If managing a poor performer is causing you to neglect your other responsibilities, it may be best to terminate their employment and hire someone that is better suited to fill the position. Sure, you may lose time having to interview new candidates but you will gain back the time you were wasting when trying to help this employee. Trust your instinct because employees that constantly drain your time and energy are costing you more than you think.
The Lesson to be Learnt
When there are clear performance measures and constructive feedback is regularly provided to employees, everyone benefits. Providing employees with clarity regarding what is expected of their performance holds them accountable, which helps motivate them. In addition, performance measures help business owners because they paint a clear picture for identifying strong and weak employees and can help identify why an employee is underperforming.
If you are asking yourself about what to require before you decide to fire, it is highly likely you are in need of HR processes to help you manage employee performance. For those without processes already in place, situations like this provide a window of opportunity to create proper performance management measures. When doing this, it helps to have an HR professional supporting you through the process. Bringing in a human resources consultant makes the entire process a lot easier and helps to ensure you are developing the best performance management plan possible. Regardless of whether you have one, two or twenty employees—the sooner you develop and start implementing these processes, the better.
So, what you are waiting for? Contact HR consultants at Inject for more information.