No Way I Can Fire Anybody Right Now!

Boy, I hear this all the time, especially these days when it is so, so hard to find people.

But, if you step back and think about it, does one have anything to do with the other?  Meaning, If you have a "bad apple" would you keep it because the store is out of "fresh apples"?  No, you'd never do that.  But yet it happens all the time inside of companies.

Now listen, it's not as easy as finding more apples at the store, I get it.  But what I want you to remember, is that rot spreads!

Staying on the bad fruit discussion, what happens when fruit is starting to rot?  You start getting fruit flies, and bacteria and fungus forms...we won't get into a whole science lesson.  But, the saying is true "One rotten apple spoils the whole barrel."  And it's true for company culture as well.

So what do you do when you cannot afford to lose anyone?  Well, I'm going to tell you that you cannot afford to keep everyone in this scenario.  So what can you do to offset the missing person that you need to fire?

I'd tell you that you need to start preparing now, and get ready to fire them soon:

  • The very first thing is to see if you have been documenting the HR issues about this toxic person.  You should have a system of how many verbal (but documented) warnings and written warnings that are allowed.  And with every warning, the employee should know next consequences if it happens again within a certain time period, and they sign all but the verbal warnings.  Make sure you've covered your tracks with a well documented system of warnings, next consequences, signatures and witnesses.
  • Secondly, let's look at your current client base.  If you cannot service your current client base if you lose an employee, then you have the perfect opportunity to "Pumpkin Plan" some clients.  Audit your current client list and strategically trim that client base.  Now don't freak out on me.  We're going to only cut out your "problem" clients.  (This strategy is from the "Pumpkin Plan" by Mike Michalowicz.  I highly suggest you read this book.)
    • Do you need to raise prices?  If so, this is the very first place to start.  If you cannot service everyone, then let some clients leave you because they aren't willing to pay the increased price.  And maybe you need to raise your price to be able to raise your employees pay or offer more benefits.  Whatever the reason, consider raising your price to trim a few clients.
    • Are you traveling to clients who are really outside your service area, or difficult to get to for whatever reason.  Trim those clients.  You'll increase profitability, and cut the travel time.  Now you've opened up time in your schedule, you have a little wiggle room while you make the staffing change.  Replacing this opening shouldn't be hard, so don't fret about cutting the inefficient travel/client.
    • If you have recurring clients, do they frequently: change their schedule, skip, complain, make special requests, employees hate going there?  You know what is very occasional, or fairly constant.  It's the fairly constant that you probably should cut.
    • All of these things are to: make you more profitable, make things run smoother, and buy you a little time while you replace the staff (and clients) who need to be replaced.

If you've followed the bullet points above, you have:  adequately documented the occurrences leading to the termination and you've "thinned" your schedule of the non-efficient, non-profitable clients.  Now it's time to "throw out the rotten fruit".  You'll find once you do you'll eventually rid yourself of those pesky fruit flies and stop the rotting of the other fruit in the bowl.

In all seriousness, this analogy, as silly as it sounds, closely mimics having a toxic employee in your company.

If you haven't experienced this already, when you do finally rid yourself of that person, you will find that there's a breath of fresh air in your company.  You will be so surprised at how much stress and anxiety is lifted when that person is gone.  When you feel that relief, you know you've done the right thing.  And your staff will feel the relief as well.

Hear me out:  There is never a good reason to keep rotten fruit in your fruit bowl and spread the "rot" to the other fruit.  You might end up with an empty fruit bowl and consumers who leave you because you serve them rotten fruit.  

Oh boy, don't kill me over using the rotten apple analogy.  I just need you to take the emotion out of the equation!!!  Do what needs to be done.  It will feel so much better.



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