When it comes to difficult employees who misbehave, some decisions on how to deal with them are dictated by the law or the organization’s own defined rules and regulations. An employee must be dismissed when they have done something illegal or committed an act for which the company has a zero-tolerance policy.

However, not all troublesome behavior is criminal and therefore, should end in termination. Some transgressions are merely annoying or disrespectful and can be remedied with coaching. Issues in productivity, for example, can be addressed with additional time management training. Before you fire an employee who is chronically late but otherwise productive, get to the root of why they consistently fail to make it to work on time.

Emotions can often cloud judgment when it comes to making difficult leadership decisions such as either terminating employment or giving second chances. So how do you decide which employees to remove and which ones should be given the opportunity to improve? Here are some things to consider:

How Willing is the Employee to Change?

If the problematic individual refuses to acknowledge that they are at fault and the cause of the disruption, then they will not likely accept proactive steps to improve. Self-improvement will only occur if the employee owns up to their mistakes and commits to them.

Is the Individual Well-Liked?

Hiring and promoting the wrong people can demotivate a team; so does firing an employee who is respected by the rest of the organization. Someone who is well-received by their peers shouldn’t be easily let go of, especially if they have a positive impact on the organization. Question why someone who is so popular and accepted has found themselves in the middle of conflict before you make any hasty decisions.

How Valuable Are Their Technical Skills?

Removing an employee who has exceptional technical skills that no one else in the organization possesses will leave a spot that will be hard to fill. Many times, we find talented employees who misbehave because they have become overly confident that they are indispensable because of their abilities.

Will Their Skills and Experience Be Needed in the Future?

Difficult employees, however skilled and experienced, can have such a negative impact that it affects the productivity of the people around them. If their skills are needed for future projects, it would be best to limit their interactions with other members of the team unless necessary. Rather than allow them to continue to poison the workplace, it may be time to start looking for a replacement who possesses similar skills.

How Quickly Can Those Skills Be Duplicated?

It’s common for organizations to not terminate problematic employees until after they have found a suitable replacement. If the skills that the individual possesses are difficult to replicate, be prepared to wait until you find someone to fill their position.

For the time being, the organization shouldn’t give up on the employee entirely. After all, some troublesome individuals have been known to change dramatically when they feel that management hasn’t given up on them.

Before firing an employee because of behavioral issues, think about the impact their termination will have on the organization. Will it lower morale or leave you vulnerable because no one else possesses that individual’s valuable skills and experience?

As someone who has developed and trained leaders for over 30 years, I believe I can help you make the difficult decision of when and if a troublesome employee should be terminated. Let’s connect: greg@inscapeconsulting.com

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