A client asked me recently what they should do about an underperforming employee. This employee was entry-level, had been with the company for less than 90 days, and wasn’t performing to the company’s standards. My response was very matter-of-fact, “they’re an at-will employee; fire them.”
From my outside perspective, it was very black and white. Whether you have a formal policy or not, the first 90 days of employment is a trial period. Your new employee should impress you with their professionalism, fresh perspective, and eagerness to take on new tasks. If they’re not doing that in the first 90 days, they’re never going to be a rockstar. At best, they’re going to be a mediocre employee.
You may be reading this, thinking that’s a harsh statement, but in reality, it’s not. Keeping employees who are not performing isn’t fair to the employees around them who are. And what’s worse, they could be negatively impacting your top performers. They say that you become who you surround yourself with, so why wouldn’t you want to set this precedence of excellence within your company culture and hold everyone accountable?
Keeping employees who are not performing isn’t fair to the employees around them who are. And what’s worse, they could be negatively impacting your top performers.
“Fire fast” can be a challenging mantra to embody. Confrontation does not usually come easy to people, so they avoid it at all costs, keeping bad employees around for much longer than they should. So, how can you minimize the number of terminations?
Hire slow. If you want to minimize the number of people you have to fire, it starts with finding the right people to begin with.
If you want to minimize the number of people you have to fire, it starts with finding the right people to begin with.
Too often, companies hire employees out of necessity. But in reality, you should only hire people you really want to work with. When an employee leaves and you have a vacant position, it can be very tempting to hire someone right away. Many companies will put out a job posting, collect a bunch of resumes, narrow it down to the top people, and then pick the best one. While this might sound like a reasonable strategy, you don’t want the best person from a small group of applicants; you want the best person for your company. And that may take months to find. So next time you’re hiring someone, ask yourself: Are you putting the right person in the right seat? If the answer is ‘No,’ then keep searching.