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Being a leader can be a tough job. Business leaders have to manage things like marketing, finance, planning and branding, but the most complicated part of their jobs is dealing with different types of people in a professional manner. A business can’t run smoothly if some of the employees are not suited for the job you expect them to do or especially if they are harming your business.

Employees are the backbone of your organization and you must always evaluate their performance and take drastic steps if needed. You simply cannot allow yourself to cling on to certain types of employees if you want your business to grow further and achieve better results. Sometimes, it is important to fire people so that your whole team can prosper. Here is how to identify the employees who need to be let go, and a few tips on doing it gracefully.

1. Someone is constantly challenging your decisions

Don’t get me wrong, business owners and managers alike need employees that use their head and are not afraid to question the decisions of their superiors from time to time. It is important to create a work environment in which employees feel free to share ideas among themselves, give advice and feedback to each other and ask questions. However, the manager is the one who must create this landscape by allowing employees to sometimes challenge his or her decisions. Once the decision has been made however, employees, managers, and leaders must stick to it unless a major catastrophe occurs, of course. Sometimes too much challenge in this case, can cause huge problems for a company. Remember those meetings that last 3 hours because of that one person who keeps challenging your decisions and holds the entire group back from making final decisions?

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Leaders are people too, and just because they are in a higher position doesn’t mean that their decisions are automatically right. Sometimes, the people in charge have a bad outlook on a certain issue and allowing employees to express different opinions can lead to better business conclusions, but there’s a fine line.

If an employee keeps questioning everything, challenging all your decisions, spending more energy on talking than on finishing his or her daily tasks, then that employee is not a free-thinker and a problem solver, but merely a disruptive negative presence. Not only will such an employee slow your plans down, but they will also encourage others to behave in a similar way, and you cannot allow this.

2. Losing customers unexpectedly is a red flag

When your business is starting to lose a lot of customers for no obvious reasons, the answer probably lies in your employees, and you will have to act quickly to discover the person responsible. The most common problems occur with the frontline staff and the customer service department. If your products or services are objectively good and meet the market standards, then there is a good chance that some employee behind the counter or in the customer service department is doing a terrible job, and this is driving your customers away.

On the other hand, you may also have employees who are sabotaging your business efforts on purpose due to personal dissatisfaction. For example, if someone feels that he or she is underpaid, unappreciated, or was cheated out of a promotion, even if the reasons for the “revolt” are somewhat justified, you should fire that person because nothing guarantees you that this behavior won’t happen again in the future.

Some people are simply in a bad place and cannot do their jobs properly. Try and motivate them to perform better, but if nothing changes, just find a replacement. You cannot afford to lose clients because of one disgruntled employee.

3. An employee cannot manage his job position effectively

“Lost” employees are the most harmful type, and if you recognize that someone like this is working for you, then you should let him or her go as soon as possible. The first clear sign of an employee fitting into this category is that he or she needs to be constantly told what to do and how to do it. There are two reasons for this and there is no solution for either:

  • The employee is not suited for the job and doesn’t have the necessary skills;
  • The employee doesn’t have the ambition to work for you and takes the job lightly.

An employee like this will not only waist a lot of your time and energy, but the time and energy of his or her coworkers as well. Your other employees will soon realize that this person is not suited for the job and they’ll start to think that your company is unprofessional. This can lead to people leaving the company or becoming dissatisfied and less productive, so you need to sever the work relationship with a lost employee quickly.

4. “Tucked in” employees

A “tucked in” type of office mentality is usually caused by a company’s policies and culture. Tucked in employees are usually the people who have been working for a certain business organization for a long time. These employees have reached certain higher positions, with higher pays, benefits and respect. Then, at some point, they just forgot that they are employees as well, and that everyone has to earn their paycheck.

How to Spark Peak Performance by Creating an Emotionally Connected Workplace

This type of employee usually starts out as a hard worker, and fights tooth and nail to earn a higher position in the company hierarchy, but the benefits that come with a position of power cause him or her to become complacent. You cannot allow yourself to be held hostage by these employees. Look at their performance objectively, as if they were just hired for the job, and try to set aside your personal emotions for this person, if you have any.

These employees usually behave like this because the leaders let them get away with it. The fact that they have certain benefits and aren’t evaluated like the rest makes them think that they are irreplaceable. It is important to communicate with your employees and make them understand that you expect them to actually put in the work, not just sit at their desk and act important.

You should always keep a behavior log or instruct your managers to do so. This will help you point out the mistakes of your employees, gauge their progress or underperformance and, ultimately, make it easier to see if someone needs to be fired. Before firing someone, make sure to create a talent acquisition plan based on the soon-to-be-fired employee. List that person’s positive characteristics and useful skills and then add a few important traits and skills that they lacked to the list. This is how you will find the right person for that position.

For more articles like this visit Best Practice Institute’s Leadership and Management blog. Use this tool to apply the kind of anytime feedback that can be applied to real time activities at work: www.skillrater.com, and develop your high-potential technical leaders in an open, transparent, and just-in-time manner. Check out our event with the USAWC in November to develop your high potential leaders.

*The positions and advice in this article should not be taken as legal advice in any manner. It is solely based opinions and experiences of the author and should not be taken as direct advice. BPI and the author shall be held harmless for any decisions made as a result of reading this article.

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Team and Company Alignment Are Critical Components ofLarge-Scale Change

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CEO & Founder of Best Practice Institute

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