Fire Fast

If you’ve had any experience as an employer, you know that not every hire turns out to be a gem. Given the time put into the hiring and training process, these mismatches can be very disappointing. But if you’re tempted to hold on to a subpar employee and simply see if things get better, don’t.

The old adage “Hire slow and fire fast” holds some real business wisdom. Yes, it takes time to find and train a new person. Yes, it plays havoc with the schedule to be down a staff member. Sure, the employee in question may have some bright spots and good skill sets. But the longer you labor on with a poor fit, the more time and money you lose—and you risk larger damage to your business, too. No one is irreplaceable, and the sooner you take action the sooner the situation will be behind you.

How to know when it’s time to fire? Here are six telltale signs to move on:

The employee is negatively affecting schedules
Got a staff member who consistently arrives late, frequently calls in sick or asks for shift changes, or even fails to show? You probably find yourself looking for schedule workarounds, worrying about assigning her key spots like opening your daycare facility, or whether she’ll show on time for a pet sit or dog walk. It’s time to move on.

The employee is creating more work for others
Whether it’s due to showing inconsistently or slow, lackadaisical, or inefficient work when he does show, if you know a particular hire is making more work for others—yourself or staff—it’s time to move on. In addition to wasting money, leaving the situation as-is risks larger problems, like a dip in staff morale.

The employee is negatively affecting staff morale
Which brings us to one of the biggest reasons to fire fast. Whether for the reasons above or due to a negative attitude toward the work, work in general, you, or your policies, a bad apple really can spoil the whole bunch. We’ve seen far too many dogbiz clients hold on to a challenging employee to the point of having to not only replace that person, but several other staff members who had previously been great workers. A negative attitude can be contagious—it only takes one strong personality to change the culture of a company for good or worse. Move on fast.

The employee is negatively affecting your work experience
Your morale matters, too. If you find yourself stressed by the frustration of dealing with a difficult employee, about what’s not getting done or not getting done well, about confrontation or the potential for it, it’s time to move on. One of the best parts of owning a business is not having to work with people you don’t want to work with—take full advantage of this.

You’re getting complaints from clients
You are the core of your business, but every experience a client has with your company—especially including interactions with staff—influence how they view your business. Risking your clientele and your reputation to avoid the hassle of firing an employee is not worth it. If you’re receiving complaints, or you see interactions with clients you think are below your standards, move the employee to a non-interaction role if that’s possible, or move on.

You’re even vaguely worried about the well being of dogs
We’ve saved this point for last because it probably goes without saying. If you have an employee who is failing to follow safety protocols, to keep her eyes on the dogs instead of her cell phone, to be slow to step in proactively to help dogs avoid conflict, or who is interacting with dogs inappropriately in any way, it is definitely time to move on.

How fast is fast?
We’re not suggesting you fire a new employee the first time they slip up (with the exception of clearly inappropriate interactions with dogs). But once you’ve identified a negative pattern, communicated the pattern and your positive expectations to the employee (being sure to document this communication in writing and have the employee sign it), and given the staff member an opportunity to rise to the occasion, be ready to take action. Be ready to reinforce improvements—and to move on quickly if the pattern continues.

When it’s time, follow the guidelines provided by any legislation in your state that governs letting employees go to make sure you have the proper documentation in place. If you currently have staff or think you may be headed in that direction, research your state’s rules now if you don’t already know them to avoid any delay when you realize you’ve got a mismatch on your hands.