HIRING

Get Rid of Your Worst Employees

Say goodbye to the whiners, losers, and jerks. Four reasons why leaders struggle to let go of the wrong employees--but shouldn't.
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Raise your hand if you have people in your company that fit into this category. I'd bet all hands are up; mine is. Yes, even in a company that has a fun, energetic culture and has won numerous awards as a great place to work, there are still people who don't get it or don't want to believe in how we roll.

We genuinely care about our employees in the totality of their lives. We're very upfront that our company exists to enhance the lives of the people who work here. As part of the health care industry, we are also blessed to be able to make the world a better place by connecting people to health care for themselves and their loved ones. We strive to be good people doing good things and we have fun doing it. 

But when it comes to attitude, this is the one area in which we are unapologetic. We make it clear to our employees that we have no tolerance for negative people. I've stood up in our "town hall" meetings to say that we are on a mission, and if you don't believe, we don't want you here. If you stay and make life miserable for others, we will seek you out, hunt you down, and make you uncomfortable. Typically folks that don't fit our culture either self-select out or get weeded out. But we don't get it right every time, and still face our struggles when it comes to bad attitudes.

So here are four reasons you may be held back as you try to make your company whiner-free, but shouldn't be:

1. They're good workers.

Sometimes these people are actually very good at their jobs. They're productive and help improve the bottom line. But the collateral damage they have on our culture is much more important. If we can't get rid of skilled workers who are a bad culture fit, we're not being responsible leaders.

2. HR is in the way.

I hear this one all the time. "My HR department makes the process too hard and too long." Look, most of us work in "right to work" states where we can show someone out of the company for any reason. And most of us have guidelines for discipline and its related documentation. Follow the rules and you and your culture will be protected—quickly.

3. You're not inspired. 

It is just so easy to procrastinate. Yes, firing people is one of the hardest parts of our jobs. But just think about how the rest of your employees are watching how you handle this. When you finally do it, they're most likely whispering, "What took you so long?"

4. You don't take responsibility.

The first reaction is to blame these individuals for their attitudes and troublemaking. But don't forget that you hired them. Look in the mirror and evaluate your screening processes so you can avoid this situation in the future.

Here's the bottom line. If you know in your gut that someone will not be part of your team for the long run, you owe it to them to act, and act now. Just like you, she has a family and her own hopes and dreams. She may not have been a winner in your culture, but that doesn't mean there isn't a place she can succeed. Once you make the move, everyone is on the path to something better.

Last updated: Apr 11, 2012

PAUL SPIEGELMAN | Columnist | CEO of BerylHealth

Paul Spiegelman is the chief culture officer at Stericycle and founder and former CEO of BerylHealth. He also co-founded the Small Giants Community with Inc. editor-at-large Bo Burlingham. You can read more at PaulSpiegelman.com.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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