People. If you have people on your team, you probably feel some days like you want to go back to working by yourself. Sure, you didn’t get as much done on your own as you do with a team but at least you don’t have to deal with people issues.
People are messy and complicated. They bring a whole bunch of challenges. They don’t always show up on time, they don’t always give their very best, and they ask to leave early (but if you took the same approach with their paychecks, you’d never hear the end of it).
Yes, you probably have amazing people on your team and you don’t know what you’d do without them. But the fact is, not everyone is an A-player. And another fact is, not everyone should remain in your company.
If you’ve ever had a team, you’ve probably had to fire someone. And if you haven’t had to fire anyone yet, just wait because you will eventually.
Firing is a challenge for a lot of people. It’s negative, it can feel hurtful, it can stir up emotions in yourself (as you let someone go that you’ve been friendly with) and in the employee (they can feel angry and betrayed).
Not surprisingly, many contractors avoid firing because of how negative it is. However, this is not a healthy way to build a business because it keeps the wrong people in your company.
Here’s how to fire an employee without the pain and hassle.
Have these three things in place
Getting rid of an employee can seem challenging because it can seem arbitrary. Even if you have very good reasons to fire the employee, they may not see it that way (and other team members might not see it that way either) so firing can have the appearance of being an emotional/non-factual choice because you don’t like the employee.
The best way to ensure that every employee is hired, trained, promoted, (or sometimes fired) is to have the following three things in place:
1. Provide written expectations early. All employees should receive a written list of expectations of what is required of them on the job. Spell out everything, including the obvious ones like “don’t steal.” Have employees sign and date these expectations to indicate their agreement with them.
2. Set measurables. Your employees should deliver a certain level of work daily, and you as the owner should monitor your employees’ work by measuring it. That’s not to say that everyone has bad days now and then. Of course, you’re not going to fire an employee because they had one bad day. But measuring and reporting creates accountability and allows you to see if there is a pattern forming. It also allows you to strike up a conversation with an employee about their productivity. Instead of saying, “I don’t think you’ve been working as hard as you could be,” you can say, “According to this daily report, you are struggling to keep up with expectations. Why do you think that’s happening?”
Many contractors kept on the employees they shouldn’t have because they tried to avoid the emotions and challenges that come with firing.
3. Adopt a service mindset. Your employees work for you and, in exchange, you pay them. But you will get more from your employees when you adopt the mindset that you are there to serve them. Remember: they’re not working for you because of the money; rather they’re working for you because of what the money provides — such as food on the table for their family. You serve your employees by providing a job and by ensuring that they can do their best for their family.
Make sure you have these three things in place and you’ll set yourself up for a simpler and more professional situation if you ever have to let someone go from your company.
Employee problems all boil down to one thing
Maybe an employee just doesn’t show up some days. Maybe an employee just isn’t hard working enough for what you need. Maybe an employee started strong but stopped performing. Maybe an employee has said bad things to other employees or to customers. Maybe an employee steals from you.
There are many reasons why you might need to terminate an employee but know this — all employee problems boil down to one thing — misalignment.
For whatever reason, the employee is no longer aligned with your company’s vision and expectations. There is a misalignment; perhaps they aren’t aligned with delivering the amount of work required, or they aren’t aligned with the expectation of professionalism, or they aren’t aligned with the concept of company-owned property. In every case, it’s an alignment issue.
Here’s how to let an employee go
If you have the three pieces in place — written expectations, measurables, and a service mentality — and if you can understand that all employee problems are alignment issues, then most of the work is already done for you.
With these changes, you can have a conversation with an employee that goes like this:
“When you joined the company, you agreed to certain expectations. Each week you’ve reported your deliverables but lately you haven’t been meeting the expectations that you agreed to. It seems like there’s an alignment issue here — perhaps you are no longer aligned with the expectations you agreed to. So, how can we work together to get you back into alignment? Or, is it better that you choose to look somewhere else for a company that you can be aligned with?”
Do you see how that played out? The onus is put entirely on the employee because they first agreed to expectations and then they reported their progress through the measurables. And now you are pointing out the alignment issue and instead of an emotionally charged phrase like, “don’t bother showing up for work tomorrow,” you are serving them by offering to get them back into alignment or to leave the company to find somewhere else where they can be aligned.
Of course, you don’t want to fire anyone. However, keeping employees that you shouldn’t be keeping is challenging too. Yet, many contractors kept on the employees they shouldn’t have because they tried to avoid the emotions and challenges that come with firing. Until now. With a few small changes, terminating an employee is no longer an avoid-at-all-costs approach but is a professional conversation that serves them (and you) and helps everyone get back into alignment again.
Mike Agugliaro is the “Business Warrior” and founder of CEO Warrior, a business consulting, training and mentoring firm, providing tested and proven methods to defeat the roadblocks that prevent small to mid-sized businesses from achieving their ultimate success. He has played a key role in building and selling Gold Medal Service, New Jersey’s largest and most respected home service company. For more information about CEO Warrior, visit www.CEOWARRIOR.com.