Letting go of an employee is one of the hardest things a manager can do. But there's no use making excuses.
You know it's time to do something about that employee whose performance is consistently lacking. But, well, dealing with it feels like more trouble than it's worth.
If this sounds familiar, I have a challenge for you. Keep track of the time you spend resolving issues, correcting mistakes, and soothing the frazzled nerves of your other employees, all stemming from one underperformer. This exercise will open your eyes to the reality--it's time to pull out the chopping block.
But more often than not, small-business owners don't want to upset the apple cart. They will endure incredible amounts of frustration and hassle instead of retraining or replacing a problem employee. Of course, this simply creates more problems, because poor performance and negative attitude reach to the core of your company. It affects profit, damages reputation, and takes you and your key performers away from critical goals. It also sends a negative message to your stronger employees; superstars resent having to pick up the slack. They may even see you as weak because you haven't taken steps to change the situation.
Imagine going through an entire week without having to compensate for someone else's poor performance. And how would it feel to no longer risk conversations between this unhappy employee and a customer or prospect? Remember, bad attitude extends beyond your four walls; it reflects on your brand.
Have you been dragging your feet for too long? Alright then, stop making excuses! If any of these common excuses sound familiar, it's time for a reality check.
Excuse No. 1 I don't have the time to train a replacement.
Reality check Thisbelief usually stems from lack of systems and documentation. With job responsibilities outlined and step-by-step instructions in place, training becomes less time consuming and more foolproof. It also takes your business one step closer to being a turnkey operation, which adds value to your company. Have all employees create documentation as they work so you can put together an operations manual. Training will be 10 times easier, and errors and misunderstandings will decrease.
Excuse No. 2 I don't know how to find the right person.
Reality check Your confidence will rise once you have a solid job description and documentation in place. When you understand exactly what skills and qualities are needed for the job, it makes the search less overwhelming. Word of mouth is a powerful ally. Other entrepreneurs, business groups, church communities, social media groups, friends, and neighbors are all great resources. If these don't pan out and time is short, you can even hire a consultant to locate and interview candidates for you.
Excuse No. 3 She's been with me since the beginning. I just can't let her go.
Reality check A start-up operation often includes the next-door neighbor, a friend or family member, and some faces that you simply become accustomed to. The operation grows, and maybe that friend doesn't, the problem becoming more apparent with each passing year. How can you deal? Simple: You must separate business from your personal feelings. Most often your friend-employee is ready to move on and wants to spare your feelings as well. Open these lines of communications; you may be surprised at what you find.
Excuse No. 4 He may cause legal problems if I fire him.
Reality check If you're not familiar with state law regarding firing employees, you should be. This is the perfect time to contact your attorney or accountant and learn the facts. When you follow the guidelines, you minimize the risk. Knowledge is more powerful than fear.
Excuse No. 5 She might take clients or confidential information with her and create competition.
Reality check There are many opinions out there about the effectiveness of noncompete and nondisclosure agreements, but if intellectual property and client lists are involved, every employee needs to sign these documents. Most individuals don't want to risk a lawsuit when they leave a company, so they won't set up direct competition. And if you don't trust your employees, the very foundation of your business is weak. It's time for a change.
MARLA TABAKA is a small-business adviser who helps entrepreneurs around the globe grow their businesses well into the millions. She speaks widely on combining strategic and creative thinking for optimum success and happiness. @MarlaTabaka