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Monthly Business e-Tips Vol 2
Issue 9

Get Them On or Off the Bus Quickly Part Two

This issue of Growing Possibilities continues with Good to Great author Jim Collins' analogy of getting the right people on the bus and the wrong ones off the bus. Unproductive or mismatched employees can be destructive to your business. Not only do the employees not deliver good work on time but they often erode the motivation and attitude of effective employees.

The wrong employees need to get off the bus quickly. Too often business owners wait to take action. Inaction can paralyze an organization. In most companies people do not work in a vacuum, they participate on teams and are inter-dependent on other departments or employees. In that case, a weak link can cause significant damage to projects. It can hold back major initiatives and the company in general. In a small business an ineffective employee can have even more negative impact than in a large corporations.

Before you fire a problematic employee, examine the problem. It may be a result of assigning the person to the wrong position. Are you utilizing the person’s strengths or are you asking them to work on their weakest areas? Have you communicated properly with this person and do they understand the expectations of the job? Do they have the tools and training they need for their job? Often times it is the business owner who has unintentionally created the problem.

When is it time to let someone go? Here are some reasons to take definitive action:

  • The person does not get along with others in your company. There are more conflicts than usual and one person seems to be at the center of the problems.
  • The employee is not courteous to customers or vendors. If your business culture is built on relationships and you hired someone who cannot live up to your clear expectations, then out the door. Ask them to leave and the faster the better.
  • Poor work. The employee’s output is consistently low quality. You have provided training and support to no avail.
  • Lack of productivity. The worker takes a lot of time to get anything done. Often they waste time by socializing with colleagues, searching the Web, talking on the phone and playing computer games. You are not paying people to play. .
  • Substance abuse issues are affecting performance in the workplace. If the employee seeks treatment, you are legally obligated to support them. But if there is evidence of alcohol or drug abuse and the person is not open to intervention, it is time to let them go.
  • An employee who behaves unethically. If the person is stealing, lying or doing things that point to sexual harassment, then don’t even think about. No second chances, it could come back to haunt you.
    Make sure you are clear about policies and procedures. Give the person warnings and list clear and measurable changes that you want to see. Let them know that if there is no improvement they will lose their job. Also, be sure they are in the right job. Give the person an opportunity to ask for what they need to improve.

Hiring and firing issues leave employers open for liability. Get legal advice before you take action where you may be vulnerable. You should follow proven procedures that will protect you. There are many ways small businesses can protect themselves.

Detailed performance reviews and clear job descriptions will reduce future problems. You can hire a professional employer organization (PEO), which is basically an outsourced human resource (HR) function. You and your staff come under the umbrella of the PEO and they assume responsibility and liability for all your HR issues. An alternative is to use a benefits broker. A broker will locate the best benefits and many offer standard HR tools like handbooks as well as consulting and training services. You can also use your staffing firm to help with employee retention issues. (see some resources below)

The last piece of advice I have is: Be careful whom you hire. If you employ friends and family, it will be harder to deal with unsatisfactory work. Because we spend so many hours at work, our colleagues become our second family. Make sure you have boundaries and treat employees family-like without getting over-involved with them. Avoid creating complications by not socializing too much outside of work . Please be compassionate because your employees are people. However, avoid putting your business in harms way in order to be nice to someone. Find a compromise. You are not helping anyone by allowing them be destructive to your business.

Examples of companies that assist with HR issues:

John Snyder
Human Capital Resources (Broker)
781-466-6536
www.thehcrgroup.com

Lyn Kaplan
Administaff (PEO)
781-565-2850
www.administaff.com

Fran Dichner
R&L Associates (Staffing firm)
978-524-7750
www.rlassociates.net

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