CBS’ patience finally ran out on Charlie Sheen and his TV hit show “Two and a Half Men” last week when the network pulled the plug on the rest of the season. The announcement was made after Sheen called the executive producer a “clown."
So what does a small business owner do when they have a star employee that is volatile and destructive to their company? Let’s not pretend. Everyone inside the organization knows that this employee is hurting the company’s mission, morale, and--worse-- its profit. The sooner that the business owner realizes this effect, the sooner the company can move forward. Though it may be hard to realize, in this case, the business can actually add by subtracting.
Remember that some people are the company’s greatest assets and some are literally liabilities. Effectively firing disruptive employees is a key to sustained business health.
1. Be Quick to Fire. Bad employees linger because the manager does not want to admit they made a hiring mistake, because it is difficult to fire anyone (especially in an economy with high unemployment), or because the manager doesn't think he or she has the time to search for someone to fill the position. Only keep employees whose personal career goals match the company’s goals. Once their goals deviate from what the company needs to be successful and grow, it is time to part ways with that employee.
2. The 28-Day Check. A company is responsible for unemployment payments for an employee 30 days after hiring them. The small business owner needs to ensure they evaluate their new employee during this time frame. Staff feedback can be valuable at this stage as well. If given proper training, most employee performance does not radically change after the first month. The small business owner’s evaluation of what that employee contributes to the company will unlikely be radically different over the next six to 12 months. Making a decision to fire them now will be easier for the company and the new employee over the long run.
3. Use the “Cringe Factor." If a business owner is unsure who should stay and who should go at their company, then use the “Cringe Factor." Ask the question: Which employees make you cringe every, single time you sign their payroll check? Remember profit is the reason we are in business and any non-performing or problem employee subtracts from that equation.
4. Revenue-Generating or Overhead? Every small business owner during tough times needs to categorize their employees as overhead or revenue-generating. Obviously, the more revenue-generating employees the better. It is also important to keep as many of the costs for all employees variable (as it relates to revenue) and at the same time available for the company to be able to use them when needed. While this is a difficult balance, it ensures that expense is only incurred when there are sales.
What advice do you have for firing employees?