Human Resources

How To Properly Terminate An Employee – Blog Series Pt.2

Hey Compliance Warriors!

Having to fire an employee is never an easy task.  Sometimes, despite attempts of open communication and encouraging performance, an employee will need to be terminated from the company.  One of the hardest aspects of preparing to fire an employee is to separate the emotions from the facts.  Firing an employee should always be a last resort, so it is important that the manager has covered all other avenues possible before moving forward.

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Part Two: Employees Who Should Be Terminated – Section I
   Every manager is familiar with how to identify high-performing employees and know various ways to keep them motivated.  However, many managers are unaware of how to identify employees that will need to be terminated from the company.  When certain traits and behaviors become easy to recognize in problem employees, the manager will know right away who to eliminate from the team, when necessary.

Feeling of Entitlement
   There is always that one, or many employees that will develop some sense of entitlement during their career time with the company.  Entitlement can manifest in several different forms, but have the same usual, noticeable traits, such as overestimating talents or achievements, an overbearing or demanding attitude, blaming others for personal mistakes, a low sense of team loyalty and a resistance to receive or give feedback.  The sense of entitlement can hit any employee, but is typically seen in either the younger generation, who were raised to always be a winner, or in the tenure employees, who feel as though their many years at the company make them invaluable and require less work from them.  While it is important for employees to feel confident in their duties, a sense of entitlement can damage the team from within.  It is important to correct this problem in the beginning, or the employee will need to be removed.

Cannot Perform Job Functions
   When an employee is hired, they are expected to be able to perform certain job duties and functions; most of them are even outlined in the interview.  Many companies have a training period and some sort of probation period in which the employee has time to learn and adapt to their job roles.  However, whether the employee is new or experienced, they must be able to perform their essential job functions.  If an employee is part of the team, they must be able to work alongside co-workers and do the job they are assigned to do.  If they cannot, for any reason, they can be terminated since they are no longer a functioning part of the company.
Of course, it is wise to consult with a lawyer or consultant regarding the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) to ensure the company is following all guidelines possible in the workplace.  While some employees may need some accommodation to effectively perform their duties, they must still be able to essentially perform their job functions.  If they cannot, even with special accommodations, they can be terminated without legal recourse.

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Can’t Function with Other Employees
   The company and its employees are essentially a functioning team in which all employees and departments depend on each other to perform correctly.  However, sometimes the ‘team’ has one member that is unable to work or function with the rest of the group.  This can occur for many reasons, such as if the employee has behavioral problems, if they refuse to work with co-workers, or if they feel some sort of superiority and attempt to ‘boss around’ their co-workers.  A person with these types of traits can harm the team function, causing employees to turn against each other or fight with one another.  Additionally, the employee that is not functioning with the group is most likely contributing the least, so they are not pulling their own weight and are not working to the same extent as everyone else.  These types of employees must be eliminated from the group before they are able to ‘poison the well’ of the company employees, so to speak.

“Success or failure in business is caused more by the mental attitude than by mental capabilities.”
   -Walter Scott

They Overpromise and Under Deliver
   While having employees that are confident and assure you that they can get the work done, be sure to notice which employees will make promises, but not deliver them.  Unfortunately, these employees will often develop some form of inflated self-image and begin to believe that they can make large, boastful promises and then not follow through with them.  The employee will make promises of performance, and when they cannot deliver, it ruins the functionality of the team or department.  Other employees are forced to pick up the slack and deadlines cannot be met on time.   The behavior can be accredited to the need for attention, or the thought that the sheer promise of something will benefit them.  Whatever the reason, the employee will continue this behavior until they are ultimately stopped.

Practical Illustration
   Kitty was having a meeting with her human resources representative because she wanted to fire one of her employees.  Julie, from HR, asked Kitty what actions made her want to fire Tyler, one of the department employees.  Kitty began explaining some of Tyler’s behaviors, such as his recent development of entitlement which made him become mean to other employees and cause tension among the group.  Because of his behavior, he was unable to perform simple tasks or duties with his team, which was putting all of the members further behind in their work.  When Julie asked what Kitty had done about the problem, Kitty told her of the various talks she’d had with Tyler and warnings regarding his false sense of superiority.  Kitty told Julie that is was obvious to her that Tyler was no longer a functioning partner on the team, and would need him to be removed before he further affects any of the other team members.  Julie finished taking her notes and told Kitty she would help her begin the termination process at once.


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Lisa Smith is CEO of Andere Corporation and Chief Content Developer at HelpDeskSuites.com. Follow her on Twitter, connect with her on LinkedIn, listen to her Small Business Spoonfuls Podcast, and find more in her Compliance Warriors Facebook Group.

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