Have you ever had an employee who was “OK” but not really fantastic? They were capable of doing the job but maybe their attitude wasn’t the best, or they made a lot of little mistakes? They were probably a nice person and your clients probably liked them but in your gut you knew that they were not performing at the level you really needed them to.
It’s easy to let someone go when they are clearly underperforming; but the average employee? It’s a lot more difficult to make that change, even when making it could dramatically improve your business.
The employee who does an OK job is probably the worst kind of employee to have on staff. The underperforming ones are easy to let go however the “good but not great” employee may stay on payroll for years doing just enough to get by but never really helping to push you to the next level. Unfortunately, it can be hard to see this when it is happening and you may only understand the cost of your mistake much later on.
1) You find that you discuss your employees’ performance (or lack thereof) with your colleagues or business coach on a fairly regular basis.
2) You are repeatedly frustrated with the lack of progress or follow-through on projects.
3) Your employee’s attitude causes you to avoid them, argue with them, or you find that it casts a negative vibe in the office.
4)You no longer trust your employee.
5) Systems, checklists and procedures are not followed as agreed.
There are talented, business-changing employees out there. Why would you settle for less? Check out this infographic by Fast Company to learn about the true cost of a bad hire.
Letting go of an employee is hard. Good employers feel a responsibility to the people who work for them and the idea of negatively impacting someone’s livelihood and family puts a knot in their stomach. It is important to keep in mind, however, that if someone isn’t excelling at their job they may not in the right job to begin with and making a change may ultimately help both of you. If you manage this process with care, you can create a win-win for yourself and your current employee.
HR TIP: Even though most employment contracts are “At Will” (check the wording of your specific offer letter) you should always provide employees with warning and an opportunity to improve before letting them go.
First, identify what behaviors need to change in order for your employee to go from “good” to “great!!” in your opinion. Sit down with the employee and clearly and without threat or blame, explain what changes you need to see. Give them 30 days to improve and then meet again. Document your conversation and have the employee provide signed acknowledgement of receipt of your conversation notes. I have seen average employees rise to the challenge when given clear, constructive feedback. Sometimes people need a good kick in the butt to motivate them to step up their game. And sometimes, they are not aware that they aren’t meeting your standards. ALWAYS give your employee a fair opportunity to improve. This way you set the stage for a smoother transition if you do decide to part ways.
STAY TUNED: Next month’s article will discuss how to create Key Accountabilities and Measurable Performance Indicators for each job role in your office and how to use these tools to drive high performance within your team.
While you are still working through your issues with your current employee, start interviewing candidates. Finding the right candidate can take time so don’t wait until you just can’t take it anymore. This will also help you to compare / contrast your current talent to who else is out there. If you are looking for an increase in skill set and experience be prepared to pay a more. This is just part of growing your business. Talent doesn’t come at a discount.
If you properly counseled your current employee, you gave them an opportunity to improve, and you gave them constructive feedback on their performance, they probably won’t be surprised when you sit them down to discuss parting ways. If you maintained a good relationship with the employee during this period you may be able to rely on them to help you transition in your new employee. Orchestrating a smooth transition and ensuring that you set up your new employee for success requires your time and attention. Here are some practical Do’s and Don’ts to keep in mind:
- Ensure that your outgoing employee has documented what and HOW they do their job and that all forms and checklists are up to date.
- Be prepared to change all passwords at the end of your employee’s last day.
- Verify that computer files, email and physical files are clean and organized so that information is easy to find.
- Leave your outgoing employee to train your incoming employee unless you are physically in the room with them at all times. On two occasions I have had outgoing employees scare off a new employee by sharing horror stories about the Boss.
- Trust that systems and checklists are updated. Inspect what you expect.
- “Dump and Run” on your new employee. Even if you have flawless systems and a detailed Operations Manual your new employee still needs your time and attention in order to settle into the job.
Change is never easy and it always comes with some element of risk. However, if you know in your gut that your current talent isn’t helping you get to the next level in your business isn’t it worth the time and effort to find someone who can?