Yes, You Do Need To Sack that Bad Employee

Pam Macdonald

Yes you need to fire that bad employee

It’s true, you do need to bite the bullet and sack that person who is causing so much grief to you, your team and your customers. You are a good person and you hate the thought of having to fire someone, even if they are a bad employee in spite of your efforts to make it work. You’re also worried about what would happen to you and your business if a claim of unfair dismissal were to be lodged. It could be the ruin of you financially and professionally. Couldn’t it?

There is More Than One Risk To Your Business

What if you were to look at it like this: Not firing that bad employee could ruin you personally and professionally.Most small businesses operate with small teams and are in many ways like a family. That’s one reason it is even more important that every member of your team pulls their weight and does their job well. Have you actually worked out the real damage to your business if you keep that bad employee?

Why Are You Afraid Of Unfair Dismissal Claims?

The problem is that you feel that sacking someone is risky; and you don’t want to end up at Fair Work with an Unfair Dismissal claim. You are afraid that the time taken to defend claims like this will cost your business dearly (you’re thinking in terms of time and legal fees). And you worry about the reputation of you and your business if word gets out that you have had such a claim lodged. That’s not how the process works though.

Your Opportunities In The Unfair Dismissal Process

  1. A claim is lodged and Fair Work notifies you.
  2. You complete a form outlining your version of the matter and it is reviewed.
  3. A telephone conciliation meeting is arranged by Fair Work between you, the aggrieved employee and a Fair Work conciliator. This is your best opportunity to resolve the matter; whether through agreeing some fault on both sides and clarification of the final termination pay, or perhaps agreeing some form of settlement.
  4. If the matter is resolved at this stage, then that is it.
    If the parties are unable to reach an agreed position, then it is referred to the Commission for a hearing by a Fair Work Commissioner.
  5. Fair Work encourage employers and employees to keep legal representation to a minimum to manage costs. Also it attempts to prevent the matter from escalating.

The Real Risk To Your Business If You Keep A Bad Employee

Let’s look at your situation another way:When there is a poor performer or bad behaviour in your business, it is costing you a lot, right now.

  1. Time taken to resolve problems or errors created by the individual.
    Rework is a killer of many businesses.
  2. Time taken to calm down irate or dissatisfied customers or staff.
    Dealing with the complaints and gripes of others is surely not why you are running your business.
  3. Time and effort to work around the problem.
  4. Lost sales, lost profit, lost opportunities....

The fact is that doing nothing is costing you! And it will keep costing you for the future in which this person works with you. Doing nothing is not a viable option.

Get Your Performance Management Processes Right

So what can you do? Performance discipline processes should be outlined in your policies and procedures. If not, now may be the time to raise this with your trusted advisor or a specialist consultant. They can help set up a set of policies that suit your business and which will assure you of compliance. If your business has less than 15 employees then you are classed a Small Business. Fair Work has published a "Small Business Dismissal Code" that is well worth reading.

5 Key Steps To Deal With Problem Employees

Regardless of the size of your business, there are a few simple key steps to addressing a bad employee.

  1. Get crystal clear on what the problem is.
    Be able to state it in clear and simple terms. Be able to explain what is being noticed and observed.
  2. Know exactly what it is that you want instead.
    There is no point telling someone that they lack customer service skills unless you can explain what great customer service looks like! Be able to set the standard that you expect.
  3. Communicate calmly
    Explain to the employee what is happening and the impact it is having on others.
  4. Ask the employee if they are aware and what the cause of any performance gaps may be.
    My favourite phrase to do this is "Based on the effort that you are putting in, are you happy with the results that you are achieving?"
  5. Take action based on the response you receive
  • Some employees require further coaching and training support to raise their skill levels to the required standard
  • Some employees may not be suited to the role (a result of an imperfect recruitment or promotion process)
  • At times you may need to give a verbal warning that the current behaviour cannot continue.
  • If previous warnings have been given, then you ought to continue that process as long as the employee has had opportunity to improve

Our Recommendation: Seek Advice About Dealing With Problem Employees

An unfair dismissal claim won’t be the end of your business, however you would be wise to seek advice before you take steps to terminate someone’s employment. Even if it is for serious misconduct (such as sexual harassment, bullying or theft) you need to get advice to make sure that your process is proper.Members of The Network Of Consulting Professionals are highly experienced in employee termination processes, dealing with problem employees, conflict resolution and getting teams and organisations back on track. Email us and we will put you in touch with our specialists.

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