One of the most challenging aspects of business ownership is people. Each one has different skills, needs, and personalities. As a business owner, it’s your job to put them in the places that make the best use of their abilities and fulfill their needs while mixing personalities that may, or may not, be the best fit. Sounds simple. Right? Well, I can tell you from experience, that it’s not. As if the people puzzle weren’t challenging enough, you must also be able to determine if an employee is the wrong fit or just in the wrong role. Today’s entry is going to explore what you can do, as a business owner, if you’ve hired the wrong person.
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- Leadership and providing a pathway to success for employees
- Why cultural fit is non-negotiable when hiring employees
- The tell-tale signs of an employee with a poor cultural fit
- Passive and proactive approaches to identifying cultural anomalies in your company
- Addressing workplace toxicity and the importance of creating safe reporting mechanisms
- Avoiding the “Me” monster and the importance of valuing growth over ego
- Leading with empathy and how to deal with low-performing employees
- What to do when you’ve hired the right person into the wrong role
- Mitigating legal action and lawsuits from firing an employee with a poor fit
Have You Hired the Wrong Person for Your Company’s Culture?
One of the biggest drivers of a company’s success is its corporate culture. In fact, 72% of companies that participated in PwC’s 2021 Global Culture Survey reported that “culture helps successful change initiatives happen.” You see, a positive corporate culture can actually enhance productivity through interdepartmental collaboration, and promotes employee engagement. On the other hand, a poor cultural fit can drag the rest of your team down, leading to decreased productivity, lowered morale, and a poor customer experience.
Therefore, finding team members that fit within the corporate culture is vital to the continued growth and success of your team and your business. New employees that don’t fit, culturally, can become disgruntled and either quit or create problems for their teams. Their responsibilities fall to their colleagues, who then become burned out and disgruntled.
As you can see, hiring practices that fail to weed out candidates who are a poor cultural fit, can create myriad problems in your organization. Therefore, keeping an employee that is a poor cultural fit is not an option. But how do you know if an employee is a bad fit for your corporate culture?
Signs of a Poor Cultural Fit
The signs that a team member is a poor cultural fit can be difficult to read. This is because the signs are often subtle. To determine if they’re a poor fit, you can either be passive or proactive. In the passive approach, you’ll need to watch for the following signs:
- Frequent absence or tardiness.
- Inconsistency in their productivity or initiative.
- Choosing not to participate in corporate outings or events.
- Struggling relationships with co-workers and/or management.
Keeping an eye out for these signs can help you identify and address cultural fit problems before they create major problems within your organization. However, you never want to allow someone to remain in a bad position for too long. Therefore, it may be necessary to take a more proactive stance when it comes to determining whether an employee is a bad fit. So, what can you do to take the proactive approach?
First, you must create safety in reporting. Right now, you might be thinking, “Justin, what are you talking about, brother?” Well, I’m glad you asked. You see, you want to make sure your team knows they can share information with you. More than that, you want them to understand that they can respectfully disagree with you without fear of reprisal. This empowers your team to inform you when things aren’t working out.
Next, you must value growth over ego. Personal development and education have got to be more important than being the “smartest guy in the room.” When you want to learn more than you want to be right, positive things tend to happen. Instilling these mindsets within your team and culture can help you catch poor cultural fits before some of the more obvious warning signs appear.
What if the Employee Just Isn’t a High Performer?
Hopefully, your screening and hiring practices are developed enough that you don’t encounter this very often. However, a candidate will occasionally slip through the screening & interview process. How should you deal with this? You must be willing to have tough conversations. Don’t waste time. Letting people go is part of building a great team and executing your business’s vision.
The Right Employee in the Wrong Seat
By now, you might say, “Justin, I understand the importance of cultural fit, and I would never allow a bad hire to remain in the company. But what if I’ve made a good hire, but not for the right role?” Well, that’s an excellent question. In his book, Good to Great, Jim Collins introduces a concept he calls, “Get on the Bus.” The idea is that you must hire the right people to work in your organization, but you must also put them in the correct roles.
Sometimes, when you’ve made the right hire for the wrong role, it can look like an employee is the wrong fit. So, how can you tell the difference? Look for these signs:
- They often seem bored or frustrated.
- They’re trying to make the best of their situation.
- The employee has indicated that they feel underutilized.
- The team member fits well within your corporate culture.
- They exhibit the core values of your company.
If you have a team member that fits this description, have a one-on-one conversation with them. Center the conversation around their needs and what actions could be taken to maximize their strengths. Give them the opportunity to express what they expect out of their role and what they want from their professional development. If a more appropriate role is available (and both parties are agreeable) move them to that position. If not, you could try to find some cross-departmental tasks to assign to them. However, these must be mutually beneficial, stretching and challenging them to grow.
When the Employee is the Wrong Fit for Your Organization
My friends, as much as I’d like things to just work out, we both know that’s rarely how life goes. Inevitably, you’re going to encounter an employee that just doesn’t belong in your organization. So, what do you do when you’ve decided that the employee is the wrong fit, not just for their role, but for the organization?
In this situation, your decision is an easy one. If you’re in an “At-Will” employment state (currently, all but Montana), you can terminate an employee for any reason outside of discrimination. However, you’ll still need to create documentation, outlining each incident that led to your decision. This helps show the timeline of events so, that if you are taken to court, you can show what happened officially. But how should you work through this process?
Firing an Employee Who is the Wrong Fit
Firing an employee because they are a poor fit isn’t quite the same as terminating them for misconduct. Therefore, you might choose to handle it through an offboarding process as you would if laying someone off. First, schedule a meeting with the employee and have an official termination letter prepared. If you have a dedicated HR person, it’s a good idea to include them in the meeting. This provides a witness, and they will be able to answer questions the employee might have while keeping their emotions at bay.
Additionally, if you’ve decided to include a severance arrangement, notify the employee of the details. This can help to prevent lawsuits and encourages the employee to sign necessary paperwork without a fight. Remember, firing people is never easy. It’s one of the lowest moments in the employee’s life and it can add stress (though momentary) to your business. However, firing someone isn’t as painful as keeping the wrong people on your team.
Implementing systems in your screening and interview process can help prevent the wrong fit from being hired. But you also need a standardized method of evaluation after hiring a team member to guarantee those systems work. This is where a business coach and advisor can help. They can look into your practices with objectivity and they don’t suffer the proximity blindness that many business owners struggle with. If you don’t have someone who can fill that role for you, reach out to us.
Friends, I know life is hard. Nobody likes firing team members. But, if you’ve hired the wrong person, keeping them will only cause frustration for them, your team, and yourself. Knowing how to handle letting a team member go, can make things at least financially simple. Let’s go out and make it a great day!
Every business owner needs someone who can hold them accountable and offer an objective view of their company. If you don’t have someone to fill that role, reach out to us. We have advisors and business coaches all over the country who want to see you and your business succeed.