Leaders, How Do You Know When to Fire an Employee?

Beth Miller |

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If you want to move your company forward, firing employees is a necessity. But how do know when talent needs to be let go?

The more you know about your employees, the better you’ll be able to decide if they’re a fit. This means leaders need to get to know their employees and seek to understand them.

Seven kinds of employees that leaders need to let go

If you encounter the following types of employees, and they show no signs of improvement, even when you try to help them, then your organization will be better off without them.

  1. The heretic. This type of employee always points out what is wrong with the company, which can be helpful if done right, but heretics look for faults not so that they can fix them but so that they can build a case against the company. This is destructive behavior that cannot be tolerated. Reasons employees act like heretics: they feel disempowered or they are rebels. (Forbes)
  1. The jerk or the bully. “A ‘jerk’ in the workplace is defined as someone who oppresses, humiliates, de-energizes or belittles a subordinate or a colleague.” These employees are impolite and so belligerent that other employees will often stop talking when they are in the room. Their behavior causes a communication breakdown, which not a good thing for any organization. (Forbes)

Bullies are different. They treat people like people, but they exploit and terrorize them.” These employees cause strife and distraction. They attempt to control other’s behavior and belittle, embarrass and humiliate employees.

  1. The victim. These employees see problems as occasions for persecution rather than challenges to overcome. They are almost always complaining. (Businessweek)
  1. The nonbeliever. These employees don’t really believe that they can be successful, that the work can be achieved. “The difference between the winning team that makes industry-changing innovation happen and the losing one that comes up short is a lack of willpower.”
  1. The know-it-alls. Innovative cultures are learning cultures. Employees must “fail fearlessly and quickly and then learn and share their lessons with the team.” (Businessweek)
  1. The underperformer. When employees are marginal or less than marginal employees for months or years on end without showing improvement, they take up too much time and effort of their leaders, and they need to be let go.
  1. The employee with inappropriate values. You can fire someone for values that don’t fit in with your company, but they must be workplace values, not values related to personal morality. Some possible workplace values: respect for co-workers, honesty, teamwork, open-mindedness, cleanliness and customer service.

How do you decide when it is time to fire an employee?

Photo Credit: Flickr user  mas abie

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Beth Miller

Beth Miller

Beth Armknecht Miller’s passion for learning, and dedication to helping others, are strands woven throughout her distinguished career, which continue to guide her work with Executive Velocity, a top talent and leadership development advisory firm. As a trusted executive consultant, Vistage Chair, and committed volunteer, Beth holds herself to a rigorous standard of excellence, and she encourages her clients to do the same when pursuing their goals.

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