7 Indicators That Tell You When and How to Let Go of an Employee

Firing an employee is not easy. After all, you have spent a considerable amount of your resources on hiring and training. However, circumstances and situations are unavoidable, and certain employee actions and behaviours can no longer be overlooked.

As an employer, we all face unavoidable difficulties. And challenging employees, who are problematic and uncooperative, is just one of the hindrances. Today, let’s explore the 7 indicators which will signal that it’s time to cut them out of your organisation. We’ll also explain how to fire an employee who is uncooperative and problematic.

1. Inappropriate Attitude

The ‘Whatever’ attitude is very contagious in a team environment, and if not handled properly, it can spread to the entire team resulting in a negative work environment.

Inappropriate behaviour or wrong attitude is often associated with apathy. Such an employee exhibits a complete lack of interest, enthusiasm or concern towards the work at hand. They are not at all interested in doing the work as expected despite recurring and clear instructions from their manager.

Not only that, they also actively indulge in bad-mouthing the company among their peers at the office. Such a behaviour spreads negative vibes about the company among the other members of the team, which is extremely contagious, resulting in a complete lack of interest or enthusiasm in the entire team. This unchecked spread of negativity among the employees is never good for any business, and if left unattended, will pull the business down.

So, how to fire an employee with an inappropriate attitude? The answer is simple – give them three systematic written warnings asking them to improve their behaviour or face termination. If the behaviour persists, then you can send them the termination letter.

2. Missing in Action

Most organisations have that one employee who is always missing on the office floor. Some days they may not come to the office and not bother informing their reporting manager about the reason for their absence from work. On the days when they do turn up at the office, they are not to be found on the office floor when the reporting manager wants to discuss a task with them. When you finally do summon them for their disappearing act, they have some excuse or the other.

This behaviour of your employee greatly impacts the work environment and their productivity at the office. The tasks designated to the employee are delayed and they miss their deadlines due to this continuous unexplained absence. The other members of the team are fed up by constantly having to do the tasks given to this particular employee. And, they now resent them (and you) for compensating for their increasing absences and completing any work that is meant to be finished by the absent employee and.

So, how to terminate an employee who is MIA? The employer can begin by giving verbal and written warnings to the disappearing employee that their behaviour is highly unacceptable and is gravely affecting work at the office. Three written warnings is time that is given to a disappearing employee to improve. However, if this kind of behaviour persists, then a formal termination letter emailed to their official email address could be the best solution for both parties.

3. Decline in productivity

When your employee is not performing despite being highly skilled and qualified for the job, maybe it is time you find out the reasons for the low performance or complete non-performance, especially when others in the team can meet and even exceed expectations.

The decline in productivity is a double-edged sword. It may be a ‘skill’ issue or a ‘will’ issue. Sometimes, a decline in productivity could be observed if the employee is not trained or skilled properly. This issue could be rectified by providing extensive training to the employee.

In a will issue, the candidate is highly skilled and qualified for the task but still does not perform the task as expected. Instead, their performance is below par. This kind of behaviour could be observed due to their lack of interest and complete disregard towards the work. And when you comfort them, they always end up with unconvincing excuses such as:

  • The system runs slow
  • No one informed them about the changes
  • Company has unrealistic expectations
  • No one responded to their questions

However, sometimes, the ‘will’ issue can also arise due to the unhappiness of feeling dissatisfied at work. This dissatisfaction can arise from a multitude of reasons, such as – not getting the deserving salary raise or promotion, too much pressure with no work-life balance, lack of communication or transparency from the higher management.

Therefore, a decline in productivity by the employee should be discussed in detail with the employee, and alternative options should be provided.

If you’re wondering how to fire someone politely whose productivity decline is persistent, then it’s best that you politely ask the employee to resign to avoid any further escalations.

4. Unpredictable and Argumentative

Healthy arguments are welcome in a highly motivated and cohesive work environment. Charged discussions go to show that an employee is an active contributor to the project. After all, employers want thinkers and active contributors in their team for better efficiency and innovative solutions.

However, if an employee is picking up arguments at random and quite frequently, then it is a challenge to the organisation. Unpredictable employees can be quite a hindrance to an organisation. You just can’t predict when and how they will behave inappropriately. Even worse, they can act inappropriately and unpredictably in front of your clients or customers. This behaviour will certainly result in bad customer experience and can even lead to a loss of business from previous customers.

An argumentative and unpredictable employee is not at all a good sign for a healthy work environment. Moreover, picking up unprovoked and unpredicted arguments with coworkers, professional partners and clients lead to a hostile work environment which is not at all conducive to the organisation or the business, as it means an utter disregard for the values and ethos of the company.

How to fire someone with unpredictable behaviour? As an employer, you could try to reason with the employee about their unpredictable behaviour and notify them about the effect of their behaviour on the coworkers and the business as a whole. But if their excessive, unpredictable outbursts and arguing persist, then maybe it is time you hand them a termination letter relieving them of their service.

5. Spreading Dissent

Dissent is necessary to maintain a transparent and healthy work environment. It helps to look at the other side of things and bring in the necessary changes when required. Dissent is a way of showing your objection to activities or aspects related to work. And transparent communication can help solve the problem and pacify a dissenting employee.

However, when dissent grows and becomes a gossiping matter at work, then it becomes a problematic issue which requires urgent and stringent solutions. Such gossip harms the integrity of the team and affects their performance. Also, the other employees start to lose trust in the organisation, which could lead to a major fallout with the management rustling in higher turnover rates.

The best way to quell the dissent is to identify the ringleader and find out the actual cause of the dissent. Then determine whether the cause of the dissent could be solved professionally, without taking any drastic measures. Most of the time, such dissenters gossip to get some attention and enjoy drama.

If you could train the employee to be a culture fit in the company, then you can take the required steps. If the employee is still behaving in the same manner, then maybe it is time to ask them to provide their services elsewhere.

6. Violating Company Policy

Integrity and honesty make the ethos of any company. Every employee who joins the company is expected to follow the core values and policies. New employees are usually given a company policy statement along with an offer of employment. They’re asked to read it in detail and sign the document (as evidence) that they have thoroughly understood and are bound to follow the policies of the company.

Generally, violating company policy is a behavioural issue which is highly unacceptable for any organisation. But sometimes, an employee may not be aware of the policies and commit certain mistakes unknowingly. The company can choose to conduct an inquiry, and if the mistake was found to be genuine, the company could choose to pardon the employee with a penalty.

However, if a particular employee is persistent with their violations, sometimes even resulting in safety or criminal issues, then the organisation needs to take appropriate measures to safeguard their personal and professional integrity. Thus, it is better to say goodbye to such employees rather than face legal scrutiny.

7. No Mood for Growth and Development

Growth and development are not just the signs of a good profile company, but they are also the signs of a maturing employee. Every individual aspires to develop their skills and contribute to the overall growth of the organisation.

The organisation also runs different learning and development programs to help their employees learn and master new skills that are required to serve the purpose of the company. The organisation aspires them to get promoted and make substantial contributions to realise the vision of the company.

However, you may come across an employee, who is not at all keen to learn new skills or develop existing ones. They are indifferent to any positive changes happening within the organisation and seem to be happy and content with where they stand. They’re unmoved despite the tremendous growth experienced by the company.

Such an employee more often weighs down the company and flows down progress. In their unwillingness to adapt, they create more problems. Luckily, such employees can be reasoned with, and motivated to take an active part in their individual as well as the company’s growth.

But if they fail to budge and are adamant on their stance, then maybe it is a better option to ask them to find appropriate alternative employment where their services would be entertained.

Firing an employee is not easy. After all, you have spent a considerable amount of your resources on hiring and training the employee to make them fit for the job role. However, circumstances and situations are unavoidable, and certain actions and behaviours can no longer be overlooked. In this case, firing the employee seems the only solution to come out of this unfortunate calamity.

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