So, when is it time to apply Frozen’s theme song, “Let it Go,” to your staff situation? I am not talking about letting go of the things they do that maybe don’t make you the happiest boss in the world; rather, I am referring to deciding when it is time to release them from your company.
This is a decision many business owners struggle with. It’s also, sometimes, difficult to separate our emotion brain from our logical brain when it comes to releasing an employee; especially since many of us develop a sense of “Employer’s Guilt”. This becomes more prevalent the more altruistic we tend to be. Being altruistic is a fantastic trait to have, but it shouldn’t cost your business.
There is a big difference between loving people and wanting the best for them, and being a doormat and taking on all their problems as your own. There’s also the other side of getting upset about things that don’t really matter. To avoid the latter, you must figure out which situations cause you to react emotionally and which situations cause you to act logically. Sometimes the two are in conflict, and you need to know what part of your brain is speaking to you; then you will be able to know if it’s time to release an employee, or just take a deep breath and move on with your day!
Emotion vs. Logic
Here are a few examples of things employees do that can cause us to have a knee-jerk emotional reaction, and ways that we can determine whether or not we really need to act on them:
1. Employees not doing things the way WE would do them, even if they yield the same results.
Ask yourself, “Did they get the job done correctly even though they went about it in a different way? Is following your process exactly really critical to the project?”
Most of the time the answer to this is no. Of course, there are times when it is important for an employee to follow exact procedures, and you need to convey that importance prior to having the employee begin the work. The rest of the time though, it’s more about our own pride. So, let it go (the pride, not the employee).
2. An employee who shows up late every day.
Ask yourself, “How disruptive is this to your business, really? Does it cause them to provide poor customer service? Do they not work directly with clients and then always stay late to make it up?”
Having an employee show up late for work, particularly if it’s habitual, is annoying and obviously, if they are opening up your storefront, it is unacceptable. But sometimes, we have it so fixed in our heads that being late is bad, that we make it a big deal even when it’s not. If your tardy employee doesn’t have to communicate with clients directly and is still able to complete the work on time, is lateness actually a reason to fire them? Probably not. Especially if they make sure to get their hours in by making up the time later in the day.
3. An employee who always asks the same questions numerous times.
Ask yourself: “How many times does this employee ask the same questions? Is it really only twice, and they always end up getting things done without a hitch afterwards?” Is there possibly an area in which they haven’t been trained well enough that would solve this issue?
Many times employees continue to ask questions because they are lacking knowledge in a specific area. Of course, you always have your time wasters, who would rather waste your (and their) time asking questions all day than actually doing any work. You also have the employee who will always ask a second time for clarification, but gets the job done right afterwards.
So while this can be frustrating, you need to look deeper to see what the situation really is. Maybe check to see if you dropped the ball on thoroughly training the person who is always asking questions, and yet not quite meeting expectations.
Do this before giving them a pink slip. If not, you will have the same problem 3 months down the road with a new employee.
4. Catching employees on social media during work hours.
Ask yourself: “Did they check a message and get back to work a minute later? Did they just finish dealing with a less than pleasant client and then take a two minute breather to watch a funny cat video?”
So what! Obviously you don’t want to see staff hanging out on social media all day, or even for 20 minutes at a time, but studies show that taking short breaks boosts productivity. The Huffington Post shared an article called “5 Science-Backed Ways Taking a Break Boosts Our Productivity” that touches on this.
While physical activity during a short break has been shown to be more effective at increasing productivity, just diverting your attention in any way for a few minutes is beneficial.
Moral of the story: Let.It.Go… Then go watch a cat video!
Logical reasoning (with a dash of employer’s guilt)
I bet you were starting to think this article was a bit one-sided. No worries, dear business owners; there is a flip-side. Just because we have emotional reactions to things that aren’t a big deal, doesn’t mean that we don’t do the opposite sometimes, too. We want to brush things off that we really shouldn’t; for many reasons. Sometimes because we don’t want to hire a new person, or because we feel tremendous guilt over releasing an employee.
We all want every person we bring onto our team to be the perfect fit. A lot of times it takes longer to determine that an employee isn’t a right fit than it does with a client. This is because we typically do a much deeper vetting process for employees than we do for clients.
Due to this, we tend to feel guilt when things are not working out with a staff member, because usually they have done some good for our business along the way. They’ve helped in time crunches, generated revenue, or helped come up with our next big idea. Great! You’re paying them, so they should be doing these things. But don’t feel bad if you need to reconsider these people, too. Sometimes it merely takes a 15 minute sit-down to see how we got off of the same page. Sometimes though, it really is time to consider releasing them from your team. Here are some signs it’s time to say buh-bye:
Poor customer service They don’t respond in appropriate time frames to you or your clients, or they act unprofessionally.
Company is shifting directions, but they are not You are taking a new road in your business and they refuse to get on board, or have an irreconcilable issue with what you’re doing.
Misrepresenting themselves We can usually tell this one right away. You hire an employee based on skills they presented themselves as having, and you soon determine, meh, not so much…
Can’t meet deadlines I’m not talking they had to take their kid to the ER and didn’t get that report to you today, but rather a recurring time management issue. When client projects are supposed to be getting done, but aren’t… That’s a big problem!
Negative Nancy For whatever reason, they have become super negative and it’s affecting work and professional relationships.
Of course there are other scenarios where you should consider releasing an employee. These are the ones that should be no-brainers. However, due to our own guilt, we can often convince ourselves that they aren’t that big of a deal.
Think again. They are. These 5 issues will make your business disappear faster than the last chocolate bar from the kids’ Halloween bags!
Still not sure if you have an employee you need to let go? Or if YOU should