No one likes to get fired, and very few employers like to fire people, especially owners of small businesses. Small businesses work best when employees feel as if they’re part of something and are contributing to the business’s success. No matter how many TV reality shows I watch, and no matter how scripted they seem, there’s always one thing that astounds and delights me: the dedication of the employees.
If a restaurant is failing and a restaurant “guru” flies in to save the day, we can almost always see the emotional attachment that the employees have for the business (sometimes, it seems, more than the owners). However, as true as this is, sometimes an employee has to be terminated.
Reasons for termination vary based on the standards the business owner sets. For example, one restaurateur may only require that a server shows up on time and do his or her job, while another may demand a high degree of customer empathy and dedication to service. One large Fortune 100 company had a saying: “Manage up or manage out.” In other words, if all efforts failed to improve a failing employee’s performance, they had to go. There is and should be discretion in firing people, but there are some things that are simply not allowable. Here are the top five:
1. Stealing from the business. This can cover anything from stealing money out of the cash register to stealing time by claiming hours not worked. If you allow employees who don’t have complete integrity to work for you, your business is doomed.
2. Chronic tardiness. Most employees are late once in awhile for good reasons; after all, flat tires and sick kids happen to everyone, but chronic tardiness simple cannot be tolerated. A business needs to run like a finely tuned machine. When one of the cogs is missing, the machine breaks down.
3. Lack of dependability. Simply put, when you tell an employee that something has to be done, they have to be counted on to do it–and to do it right.
4. Disregard for colleagues’ sensitivities. No small business can afford a lawsuit from an employee who contends that the business tolerated harassment, whether it be sexual, racial or simply treating a fellow employee with a lack of respect. One bad apple can poison the work atmosphere, and that apple needs to be removed from the environment before he or she can contaminate it.
5. A pattern of making mistakes. This can be difficult, as sometimes mistakes are understandable. If an employee makes mistake after mistake and those mistakes are costing you money, the employee must either improve his/her performance or leave. If you sense that the mistakes are the result of laziness or carelessness, the sooner the better.
In a perfect world, you’ll never have to fire anyone, but the world isn’t perfect and neither are your hiring decisions. It’s best to rectify them before they do irreparable damage to your business.