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Before You Fire Your Toxic Employee, Ask Yourself These 3 Questions First

Jade Yourth
Industry Insights

Before you draft up that termination letter, ask yourself these questions first.

 

Some aspects of leadership get easier with time and PR. Things like public speaking, interviewing candidatesm, and negotiating may have been hard at first, but now you barely give it a second thought. It becomes second nature and just another part of the gig.  

Unfortunately, dealing with toxic employees is something many of us continue to struggle with. Each difficult employee presents their own unique set of issues that tests your patience (not to mention your stress levels). Despite your best hiring efforts and screening process, they've turned into a daily source of negativity. 

 

We all know the type. The person who has nothing positive to say, riles up the other staff, and generally makes life as difficult as possible. Firing them may seem like your only option. However, not all toxic employees are built the same. 

There are a number of factors to consider before you draft up that termination letter. If you see considerable talent in this person, or this behavior seemed to come out of nowhere, there may be a better option to salvage the relationship.

Either way, it really comes down to two paths: mentor them and hope things get better, or fire them and start the hiring process. Both require a lot of consideration. So take out your pen and paper, and start reflecting on which route to take.   

It's time to mentor if...

1. You have the time.

You likely have a lot on your to do list. Coaching an employee, especially one that has displayed toxic behavior, takes time. This includes weekly meetings, evaluations and mentoring. Do you have the ability to really make an impact and coach them effectively? If not, it's likely not worth the effort.  

2. They're receptive. 

Believe it or not, some people are just not aware how their behavior comes across. They may be genuinely shocked when you tell them that staff find them unapproachable, or that their feedback is delivered in an offensive way. If the employee is open to change and receptive of your feedback, then it may be worth keeping them around to see how things improve.  

3. They're going through personal issues.

 

Maybe they're going through a divorce, or they're dealing with a health problem that they haven't shared with you. There are a number of issues that can affect how someone conducts themselves at the office. Once you dive a little deeper, you can come up with a plan together so that their personal matters stop affecting their professional conduct. 

It's time to fire if... 

1. Their negativity is contagious. 

It's one thing to have someone with a bad attitude. It's another to rally others to feel the same way. Negativity can spread like wildfire. Complaining to others about the company and stirring the pot is a major threat to your culture. Nip it in the bud and let that person go.  

2. They don't care. 

Every successful business is built on passionate employees. So when something goes wrong, your team has to care. It's the only way the problem will be solved, and more importantly, won't be repeated. When a setback happens or targets are missed, how does this person react? If they're indifferent, you better let them loose. 

3. Nothing changes. 

After a series of reviews, one-on-ones and mentorship sessions, have you noticed a significant difference? I would continually ask colleagues how they feel about the person's word conduct, as you never know what happens when the boss isn't looking. You can't change people that don't want (or believe) they need to. Let them be someone else's problem.