If You Have to Fire Someone, You Screwed Up

I’ve never been fired but probably should have been at least once along the way. I have let some employees go over the years, however. In every case, the person I hired is the exact same person the day I fired them as the day they first walked in the door. Personalities and work ethic rarely change. I was more to blame for the failure than they were.

If you’ve had to terminate an employee, 1 or more of these factors is likely the cause:

You hired the wrong person to start.

That’s on you, not them. Their goal is to present themselves in the best possible light going through the vetting process. Your job is to get to the truth as to their skills, personality, temperament, and long-term potential. Some departments (and organizations) just don’t want to put in the heavy lifting of hiring the right people and default to accepting high turnover as a cost of doing business.

Your onboarding process was inadequate.

Orientation, training, work tools, support, expectations, and goals all need to be clearly understood by the new employee, the people they work with, and management. No one gets it 100% right, ever. But the closer you get the greater your chances for a lengthy, productive tenure.

Your ongoing training/education isn’t aligned with employee needs for evolving job requirements.

Industries change, businesses alter course, and departments get reinvented. If you expect employees to “figure it out,” some will, others won’t. If they were a good employee before a transition, they’re more apt to be so in the new world order, but you have to lay a foundation for success to go along with the new direction.

* * * * *

If you have responsibility for hiring and firing, you obviously want to be as close as you can the first time. Put the right people in place and you make work life easier for you and everyone around you; get it wrong and it costs you long after the employee is terminated.

When employees like their work and the people they work with, when their skills are in sync with the job requirements, when they feel their work matters and is contributing to something bigger, the ability to attain and maintain healthy behaviors also goes up dramatically. Employees are much more receptive to well-being programs and other employer services if they love being part of the organization.

Whole employee populations can, over time, shift toward healthier behaviors if managers become skilled at attracting and retaining the right talent. Conversely, if hiring, onboarding, and ongoing development are low priorities, you’re in for an uphill battle when it comes to influencing health.


Dean WitherspoonDean Witherspoon
Dean Witherspoon is CEO and founder of HES and has been the managing editor of the Well-Being Practitioner (formerly the Health Promotion Practitioner) since 1992. He leads the most creative team in wellness, serving organizations worldwide with best-in-class workplace wellness campaigns.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.