The Termination Process
Even though the title Hire Slow, Fire Fast may imply that you should terminate people quickly; we don’t recommend that you fire anyone when you are angry or enraged (even though it might be the most emotionally satisfying thing you could do). If you are faced with a situation that requires you to take immediate action, such as an associate caught using illegal drugs in the office, suspend the individual to give yourself a cooling off period and plan the termination correctly. Even in a state that affirms employment at will, individuals may be extremely vindictive, they may belong to a legally protected class (race, religion, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, age, and physical and mental disability) or they may have other grounds for legal action. When faced with potentially libelous situations, a suspension buys you time to contact an employment attorney to discuss the circumstances and plan the proper approach.
If, however, you are not facing a potentially libelous situation, swiftly terminating a problem individual is best for you and your team. Here’s why: it can be deadly for the team’s morale if you allow a problem employee to linger in their position. Aware of their offenses, the rest of the team may begin to question your leadership abilities and their respect for you may become seriously eroded. If a sub-par performer remains employed, the rest of the team may downgrade their performance, concluding that you, or firm management, won’t take remedial action. If the individual is missing a great deal of work or showing up late, despite attempts at intervention, it can lead other employees to wonder why they’re held to a higher standard. Toxic employees, even when they are good performers, can damage morale by sabotaging your initiatives, undermining performance standards and creating an atmosphere of contention or negativity.
Click here to read more of this excerpt from the book Hire Slow, Fire Fast: A Lawyer’s Guide to Building a High Performance Team by Mark Powers & Shawn McNalis.