Employees, employees—what would you do without them? Not much when you have a lot of work going on and a backlog in production. You need them and they need you.

However, that doesn’t mean that “once hired, never fired” is the reality.

Particularly when times are good, you need very competent employees. But more often than not there is usually at least one employee in a company who should not continue to be employed.

Here are some simple signs to watch for.

Being Talked About
You know what I mean. The employee who is the subject of a lot of conversations among other people employed at the company.

“Bob is a pleasant person but he never gets anything done on time. Ever.”

“If Judy would only [you fill in the blank] she would be such a good employee.”

“If Fred were to walk in here today looking for employment we would never hire him.”

“What are we going to do about Samantha?!”

So why are they still working in the company?

Good employees almost never are the subject of conversations. Why? They are performing well.

Good Intentions but Poor Performance
Managing an employee who is earnest and well-meaning but just never gets it is so frustrating.

You like the person. You want them to be better. You try and try to help them make progress, but they never do.

Yet you always find a reason to give them another chance.

Downright Unmanageable
I see this periodically in my work with companies.

Someone who is arrogant and thinks that they know more than anybody else. Oftentimes, this person is pretty good at their job. But their attitude is so bad it sucks energy from those who have to work with them.

Because I am casting fresh eyes on the situation, I can see things more clearly than those who have become inured to the situation.

What do you do? You need employees. The work has to get done.

Yes, you are thinking, some tasks have to be redone, but they are basically decent workers.

Your people are your company. What you tolerate sends a message to all in the company. “Our owner says a lot of great things but when the rubber meets the road, they don’t listen to what they are saying.”

In my own experience every time we finally let an inappropriate employee go this is what happened:

  • The person is fired.
  • They leave.
  • Everyone breaths a big sigh of relief.
  • The fired person’s work load is divided up for the short term until a new employee is hired.
  • The remaining workers all work better because we are on the same page.

It is hard to find employees, I grant you that.

I think it is harder to get great performance from good employees when you don’t let go of the poorly producing ones. Try what I am suggesting and find out if it is true.