The Final Straw Employee

You have an employee who has never quite lived up to your expectations. It’s nothing big, but an accumulation of little things. Maybe he (she) is chronically late. Maybe it’s his attitude. Perhaps his attention to detail, or sales results, or his relationships with his coworkers just aren’t improving. Whatever it is, you’re at the end of your rope. The problem is, no single event has been significant enough to warrant letting this person go. What do you do?
If you, as a manager, find yourself in this situation, the first thing you have to do is take a hard look in the mirror. The truth is that things likely wouldn’t have gotten to this stage if you had addressed the issues and applied consequences along the way. Nevertheless, here you are.
Begin by documenting everything which has happened to date. Don’t embellish or look for marginal things. Just document the real issues of concern. Set up a meeting with your employee, and tell him that you have some serious concerns about his performance, and go over the issues in the document. Make it very clear that, starting today, these behaviors, or this performance level, are no longer acceptable. Set up a reasonable time – eg. two weeks – for a follow-up meeting to assess progress.
If, by your follow-up meeting, things have improved, give your employee positive feedback, but don’t just drop the issue there set up yet another meeting in a month’s time. If things have not improved, begin the process (this differs from region to region) of setting this employee free. Whatever you do, you cannot permit the substandard performance or behavior to continue. If you continue to ignore it, you send the message to the rest of your team that you don’t appreciate their efforts.

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