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You did not go into business to be a human resource professional. Fortunately for you, we did!

What to do when it just doesn’t work out.

September 13, 2013 at 1:07 pm



We spend a lot of time recruiting and onboarding the right employees.  And we work really hard to make sure the right employee is in the right job.  But despite all of our hard work and time spent, sometimes the employee just isn’t working out.   There are a variety of reasons this might happen; personality clashes, the job has evolved, the employee doesn’t live up to their resume, etc.  And when an employee is just not working out, you have to make a decision.  There are three choices that I can see….



You do nothing.  Doing nothing is still making a decision, and sometimes it can be the right one.  Just make sure you have thought through what doing nothing means.  If the job is getting done, but an employee isn’t working out because they don’t seem to fit in with the corporate culture, more time might be a solution.  But be prepared to go back to this issue in a few weeks and reevaluate.

You reassess the employee/job fit.  Maybe the job isn’t exactly what it was advertised as.  The employee might have been a perfect fit for the original job, but sometimes we make changes and move duties around, and suddenly they are doing something completely different than planned.   Or what about this scenario; you promoted a good employee and now they are not so good in the new job (it happens all the time!).  Consider if there is another position that might fit this employee better.  You might be able to keep a great asset to your company in a different role.

You fire the employee.   I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but sometimes the best choice for both the business and the employee is to get rid of them.  Chances are, they are just as unhappy with the position, as you are with them in the position.  Now if this is the decision you make (and you’ve talked to the employee previously & documented those conversations), I have one important piece of advice, which has truly impacted me in my career.

You can’t ask someone to take care of you emotionally when you are firing them.

What I mean is, you should not be telling the person you are firing how bad you feel and hard it is for you to make this decision.  You should be straight forward and honest, but leave your feelings out of it.  If you need help decompressing your feelings, talk to a peer or your own manager, but do not expect the person you are firing to lean over and say “it’s ok, I understand.”

Categories: Human Resource Consulting.