If your employees are quiet and/or their attendance is sporadic, employee disengagement can be to blame. A disengaged employee is not a productive employee. As an employer, you may observe these things happening and your first thought is “I will let them go (fire them).” But if the employee is trying to do a good job, reassignment or more training could be a better option. Following are four things to remember before deciding.
When looking at the employee, do not make assumptions about why they are not working to their potential. Other things to consider include health issues, personal struggles, the lack of necessary skills, and being unaware of company expectations. Since disengagement from a job is not all the employee’s fault, look at your company’s contribution to the problem. Low pay, ineffective leaders, or dysfunctional teams can contribute to the employee’s problem.
A second thing to consider before firing an employee is training options. If you have a good employee you do not want to lose, more training is an option. This training can involve both “soft skills” and any technical aspects of the work. More training, however, will be expensive and will take time from your schedule. Training programs need to have a clear end goal and purpose and feed into your company’s strategic priorities.
A third thing to do before terminating an employee is to consider moving the employee within the company. This lateral move may work well if the employee takes responsibility for shortcomings and wants to solve the problem with you. A company who helps employees manage their careers keeps them productive and engaged. People want to stretch their abilities, whether in a new position or one that offers fresh challenges.
Fourth, performance metrics and written documentation can help make the final decision. While metrics and written documentation are helpful, do not ignore your “gut feeling” (intuition) about the decision. When making such a decision, a manager should combine his/her instincts with a measure of rational evaluation. Trust that you as a manager can know what is best for the company. It may be easy to fire a toxic or disengaged employee, but a good employee can be worth the investment.