COVID-19 Update

Why It Just Might Be Time to Fire Someone Even with Low Staffing Levels

Sentimentality has no place in business, especially at a time when every decision you make can be magnified with so few jobs available.

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Why It Just Might Be Time to Fire Someone Even with Low Staffing Levels

These days, most of the staffing reductions across AV and other industries are more a result of the drop in steady work as a result of the continuing spread of the coronavirus pandemic, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t also reasons to fire employees at a time when every decision is crucial.

Leadership expert and executive coach Roxi Bahar Hewertson, author of the newly-released book “Hire Right, Fire Right: A Leader’s Guide to Finding and Keeping Your Best People” recently highlighted five reasons to fire someone, even when staffing levels are at their lowest in recent memory.

This is no time to be sentimental since one bad apple can ruin the whole company.

  1. Does Not ‘Play’ Well With Others: More people are fired for this reason than any other, no matter what the public cover story might be. The inability to work well with others will continue to be, the ‘Achilles Heel’ of too many very bright people because of a serious deficit of emotional intelligence competencies. We know it when we see it; an employee is consistently difficult to work with, won’t collaborate, is a bully, or high maintenance. If the employee adds great value to your organization, then training, and/or coaching may help shift these behaviors. If the employee is not deserving of the investment or doesn’t respond well, it’s probably time to fire and fire fast, before more damage is done.
  2. Loss of Trust: Loss of trust is a root cause underlying several reasons to terminate. Consistent poor performance, broken promises, ethical breaches, sabotage, policy violations, lying, etc. all have low trust outcomes. We know in our gut when we do and don’t trust someone and often why we feel that way. Loss of trust is a very important, signal that something is wrong. Don’t ignore the warnings! Verify or disprove your feelings. Bottom line, if trust is broken, you will either have to find a way together to rebuild trust or that employee needs to leave your organization. No trust, no job.
  3. Blame Shifting and Avoidance: When an employee avoids conversations about performance, and/or shifts the blame to another person, they likely suspect they will be held accountable, and don’t want to have that conversation. When blame shifting, the employee is failing to take responsibility for their choices and throwing someone else ‘under the bus’. If this behavior doesn’t change with feedback and coaching, it’s time to fire.
  4. Insubordination: This is a sub-category of both trust and not playing well with others, but it’s egregious enough to stand on its own. Insubordination is the direct or indirect refusal by an employee to perform a legal, ethical, and reasonable directive from a manager or supervisor when the directive has been clearly understood. If coaching or counseling is an option, then by all means, start there. However, if the situation is serious, dangerous and threatening to others, insubordination can be just cause for an immediate termination.
  5. Lack of Engagement: This can be an outcome of someone who has ‘retired in the job’ or a newer employee who came in sprinting but couldn’t or wouldn’t run the marathon. If you see low or no drive, a lack of a ‘can do’ attitude, and it’s clear their heart isn’t in it, then many of the reasons you hired this employee are no longer present. Before lack of engagement becomes a cause for firing, search for the root cause and offer to help the employee course correct. However, if you believe you hired one kind of person, and you discover it is not the case, you were fooled, and it’s time to either find a better fit for that employee, or it’s time to fire.

It takes the right kind of leader to make the difficult decision to fire an employee. But letting that malcontent stay with your company longer than necessary could have long-term ramifications.