The Biggest Mistake Employers Make When Deciding To Let An Employee Go
Content was originally published on Inc.com on October 10, 2019.
For a business owner, finding and hiring talent can be one of the most important (and hardest) parts of the job. And the reality is that even after you find the “one” you can still run into trouble down the road with an employee who is unable to perform some of the tasks outlined in your must-haves. As a leader, it’s important to not only recognize these short-comings early on, but to also be able to identify why that employee isn’t able to perform the necessary functions for their position.
Because contrary to popular belief- an employee’s inability to perform their job function doesn’t always mean that they are not a good fit for the position (and therefore need to be let go.) Often times it’s something that can be fixed.
Let’s begin with the first reason that an employee isn’t performing their job properly:
This is a skill or activity that this particular team member simply isn’t suited for. No amount of training or ongoing coaching is going to overcome this deficit. Your best choice is to see if you can shift or adjust his role to leverage this person’s strengths and make his glaring deficit irrelevant to his role.
For example, one of my coaching clients has an incredibly talented operations leader named Bill, who is smart, innovative, reliable, and proactive. You give him a spreadsheet, and he’ll make the numbers dance. Give him an impossible logistics problem, and he’ll find an innovative and profitable way to solve it. But Bill is simply tone deaf when it comes to empathizing with other people. Had to go to your great aunt’s funeral yesterday? All Bill wants to know is did you finish up your project list before you left for the memorial service.
You can coach Bill to avoid some of the glaring social gaffes from his lack of emotional intelligence, but he simply shouldn’t be in a role where social skills and empathy matter most. By selecting the right role for Bill, and supporting him with team members whose abilities complement his own, my coaching client is able to leverage the best of Bill to run his internal operations.
This implies that the person is capable of doing the activity or responsibility, but for whatever internal reason, this person simply doesn’t do it. Assuming you’ve had a clear, adult conversation with this person, generally a “Won’t Do” team member needs to work for another company, the sooner the better.
Hint: This is what most employers assume is the issue from the start, so be careful to gather all the facts before jumping to this conclusion.
Don’t Know How:
This is when you have a willing team member who simply lacks the skills or experience set to handle a specific task or responsibility. This person needs training and support to learn how to succeed at this specific function.
Once you know the different reasons why an employee might fall short on a specified tasks, it becomes much easier to help coach or guide your team to success. And if the situation calls for it- letting that employee go to find a better fit.