Top 4 firing signals

In my new self directed role, I am happy that I have no team members.

Looking back on my management career, the biggest people mistakes I made weren’t in hiring people too quickly, but in firing too slowly.

Let me be clear, a bosses job isn’t to go around and look for people to fire. But to assess when a person becomes a bad fit with their work, team, and company. Then it’s best to resolve this quickly so the problem doesn’t magnify and spread.

What I learnt, slowly (and what you can learn quickly) are the four best signs of when you’ve got a problem on your hands. Just because a team member is displaying a sign, DOESN’T mean they should be fired, but it is certainly a reason for you to sit with them and explore what their motivations are to display this type of behaviour.

The process starts with a serious conversation, which prompts a performance reappraisal and resetting of your expectations of their behaviour and continues into either your smiling face or a more serious conversation on the person seeking a move elsewhere. What are my top 4 tell take signs of a potential firing

1. Not Performing Up to agreed Expectations

It doesn’t matter how much you appreciate an employees’ efforts—if they’re failing to meet your agreed expectations month after month, they may not be a good fit for your business. Not only are they costing you money, but they’re pushing responsibilities onto other colleagues, causing potential stress within your team.

One solution, when you spot a poor performer, is to offer to discuss with the employee a short-term improvement plan to address the shortfall in their performance against agreed standards. However, if this person fails to improve within this specific time period and other signs pop up, you should work on a transition plan to give him or her time to find another job while you find a replacement.

2. Can’t Handle Change

Growth is crucial, especially for small, fast-moving teams and companies and with growth comes change. If an employee, when first hired, was a high performer but can’t keep pace or move in the same direction as the team and company as it grows and changes, then he or she is no longer the right fit for your team. Companies need to continue to improve and evolve to be successful, to change, and so do their workers.

Employees need to be comfortable with this change and eager to improve their abilities, and build new skills growing at pace with the company. If you find a team member uncomfortable with the changes that the company has then again there needs to be a conversation initiated to enable them to cope with these changes.

3. Lacks Enthusiasm and Drive

It’s easy to be motivated in the early stages of a job, but as a person is in a role for a longer period and as the company grows and probably hits a few bumps, that’s when it’s easy to see who’s aligned with the company’s values and committed to carrying a company through the long term, and who isn’t.

When a person first joins a business they are certainly excited with the opportunities ahead. But we all need to maintain, and even increase, our motivation as time progresses.  Businesses aren’t guaranteed success and as we have recently seen, economies aren’t always in growth.  When times get tough for your business you need team members motivated and resolved to succeed despite the challenges. Value people who are passionate about your work and who are motivated to succeed. And if they don’t display these characteristics, then again initiate a conversation on how they can regain their motivation.

4. Doesn’t Fit Into Company’s Culture

Most of the time, hiring managers are so focused on hiring someone with the right skills, they forget that it’s also important to hire someone who understands both the goals of your company and how the team works together. A frequent mistake in hiring is in choosing people who have high competence fit but a low cultural fit. While these team members may have great skills for the role you are looking for, the time and effort of managing and integrating a person with the wrong cultural fit into your team will be extremely difficult and a source of niggles and stress.

And lack of cultural fit isn’t only brought into focus in hiring, but also when promoting people. The skills that made that top sales rep successful- competitive, focused, occasionally selfish- may not be the right cultural fit with them being promoted to  sales manager. Right cultural fit in a leadership position, as they will hire other people who have a cultural fit with them, rather than with the organisation, is likely to create even more polarisation within your company.

When hiring the minimum acceptable candidate is those with a good culture fit with “medium” competence, who is ambitious enough to learn new skills within a short period of time boosting their competences for your team. Skills can be learned; poor behaviour can rarely be unlearnt

Next Steps

If you have evaluated an employee’s performance, attitude toward growth, motivation and cultural fit, and decide it’s in your teams’s best interest to let him or her go, you still need to consider one more thing: legal issues.

Consider whether you’re firing someone for the right reasons and you should consult with your HR specialist immediately before making any decisions.

Also, plan on having two people in the room when you’re telling someone he or she is fired. It not only will help you be more rational and keep your emotions in check, but the other person can serve as a witness and take notes, in the event the employee files a claim against the company.

Certainly, firing someone isn’t going to be a career highlight for you, but its a necessary skill for all bosses. And any help diagnosing when you may need to use this skill is useful, as it may enable the team member to turn their performance around. Get used to picking up signs, having focused performance conversations and getting employees back on line.

Do you have other signs of poor performance that you can add, please do so in the comments.