When to fire a bad hire? Here is a step-by-step guide

Nobody wants to be the person that is in charge of firing employees. And yet, someone has to do it and at some point, it might be you. Unfortunately, in the last several months especially, this economy has seen an uptick in firings and dismal because of financial circumstances beyond employees’ control. We’ve gotten used to uncomfortable conversations, unemployment, repetitive job searches, and remote opportunities and obstacles we never would have dreamt of before.

When should you consider firing employees?

But sometimes, firing isn’t about financial loss or having to lay off members of the staff for growth opportunities. Sometimes it’s about the employee’s performance, or finding out that they aren’t necessarily a good fit for your staff. So, what identifies a bad hire? Here are a few ways to pinpoint when an employee or new hire isn’t going to pan out.

Signs of a bad hire

1. Your employee is causing friction with their team

Not every employee will work directly with other team members, especially in a remote working environment. Luckily, most corporate jobs – and many full-time and temp-to-hire jobs in general – have a 1-3 month grace period, where both the managing officials and new hire get to decide if they are a good fit for each other.

This amount of time really does allow supervisors to glimpse into how their team cooperates, identifying any friction that might exist between the new hire and their teammates. Make sure that if your team isn’t already implementing a grace period similar to this, that they consider it or consider extra supervision during this time so you can more quickly identify how your new employee will complement the company’s ongoing efforts.

Employees that exhibit competitiveness are healthy when working on a common goal, but not so much when they’re competing against their team members or always trying to take credit for work other people are doing.

Perhaps they’ve been employed alongside – or have known – someone else in the company for a while and have pre-existing emotional tendencies toward them. Office crushes, bad attitudes, awkward social interactions, and more can cause friction, but it’s up to the managing staff to keep an eye on how things develop and where pain points may be coming from at all times.

Be sure to check in on your team’s mental health – or ensure that there is a system that allows for that – as mental clarity can really lead to miscommunication in an office setting.

Firing employees because they are training on new systems, experiencing temporary miscommunications, or getting used to working from home obstacles is probably not the right way to go, but it takes time and concentrated efforts to decide where friction originates. Terminating an employee early on for making multiple people’s work lives difficult can really help you to maintain an open and stress-free environment.

Be sure to check in on your team’s mental health – or ensure that there is a system that allows for that – as mental clarity can really lead to miscommunication in an office setting. Firing employees because they are training on new systems, experiencing temporary miscommunications, or getting used to working from home obstacles is probably not the right way to go, but it takes time and concentrated efforts to decide where friction originates. Terminating an employee early on for making multiple people’s work lives difficult can really help you to maintain an open and stress-free environment.

If the new hire is performing well at their job otherwise, you may consider the sources regarding what friction employees may be experiencing or witnessing and do a more well-rounded deep dive into the issue. Make sure that, as their supervisor, you thoroughly examine everyone’s behavior involved to make a decision that will benefit your workplace and its culture.

2. Your employee is underqualified

Your team’s new employee wrote a dream resume with sparkling accolades. Only, now you’re realizing that they don’t know how to open a Google Doc and they created a confusing pitch funnel in Slack when they should have been writing an e-Blast in Mailchimp. In other words, they may have waxed a bit more poetic than necessary on that resume and with their portfolio. You may now be realizing you hired a bit of a dud, and that this isn’t going to be a comfortable conversation.

Noticing this early on can be a blessing and a curse. Sometimes people do have the experience, but with the ever-changing nature of the internet and applications in the tech world, it can be difficult to retain all of the information you have been taught all of the time.

Take time to notice your hire’s abilities early on and check in on if they are as qualified as they claimed. If they aren’t, it might be pertinent to have a conversation about it early on to see how dedicated they are to learning their craft better, or how well they’ve grown – and how much information they’ve attained and used – over a several day period.

In all cases, make sure to fully vet your new hire before they ever step foot in your office or have the opportunity to sign a contract. Some people do exaggerate their abilities a bit, and some people lie about where they went to college or about a job they never had.

Doing the necessary work before you hire them will relieve your need to fire them for being unqualified, and give you more time to bond with the talented team you’ve curated.

3. Your employee can’t communicate effectively

Sometimes people miss work. Sometimes they miss work so many times that it qualifies them for termination. But even before this obvious step – way prior to leaving your employee voicemails and emails about automatic termination due to contractual time commitments – you may experience an issue in communicating with your employee.

Not every employee is groomed for prime communication, but having the ability to let their supervisor know when and why they will be out of the office with as much notice as possible, if they don’t think they will make an upcoming deadline, or if they didn’t understand the notes from the meeting they missed last week and need some information on assets, among many other things is very important. It shows that they respect communication boundaries the supervisor and other team members may have, especially regarding remote work where lines are often blurred.

As a supervisor or manager, it is your job to make sure that all new hires know your communication preferences and boundaries. For example, make sure to set your working hours so you don’t receive messages before or after your ideal working times.

Specify if you’d like personal emails, text messages, direct messages, Slack channel updates, tagged Trello cards, GSuite alerts, or any other excessive amount of methods of communication as your primary method so that your paper trail stays in the same place.

If you’re working in a designated office area together, set boundaries related to space, respect, and expectations. If you set your new hires up with all of the tools they need to exceed your expectations, you won’t have to worry about firing them or looking for an alternate option.

4. Your employee doesn’t show up

As mentioned previously, there comes a time to throw in the towel when your employee simply chooses not to show up to work. Of course, this could be from being sick or something else happening in their life, so you will want to inquire about the circumstances surrounding their absence. But what this comes back down to is their ability to communicate with their superiors, and their willingness to make up for their transgressions. A “no call no show” is against many company attendance policies, so this violates their contract unless otherwise substantiated.

Aside from a family emergency, you could notice that your new hire doesn’t have much interest in their work, seems distracted or distraught when trying to work, or is otherwise experiencing other productivity issues that can come with new hire overwhelm.

If that’s the case but you still see potential in their work, their work ethic, or otherwise, then pull them aside – or have an HR manager handle it, whatever is appropriate at your place of business – and let them know that you believe in their talent and want to see them thrive. It doesn’t hurt to point someone in the right direction, especially when they are getting used to new surroundings.

Additionally, if they aren’t a new hire per se but are still exhibiting increased dissatisfaction with their role, less engagement with their process, and an overall lack of responsibility, then they may have outgrown their current job.

Having the ability to discuss your employee’s futures within the company as you notice changes in behavioral patterns and interests is what will keep your talent thriving, individually and as a team.

For those of you saddled with the grueling task of terminating an employee, experts suggest that Monday could be the best day of the week to do so. No matter what the reason for letting a person go, make sure to be kind. You don’t know what someone else may be going through, and being fired is never going to be the cherry on someone’s day.

Remember, as much as a new hire’s career relies on their adaptability, commitment, and communication, there is still room for existing employees and hiring managers to help foster a healthy working environment that will allow a healthy work relationship to grow and thrive.

Don’t underestimate the power of a kind word or checking in on your new hire, especially during those first few weeks where they are undoubtedly experiencing new levels of stress.