We all know how hard it is to find good employees. We’ve all heard it: “People don’t want to work.”; “Don’t hire anyone younger than 30.”; “Everyone has an entitlement mentality.” Blah, blah, blah. 

The situation is both kind of funny, and kind of sad. We all have to laugh about some of the employees we have seen through the years — some of which were no fault of our own. There are liars out there, even a few con men — those with exaggerated resumes and over-rated value-to-employer perceptions.

Though we all agree on the difficulty of finding good employees, they are out there. Unfortunately, too many companies use this excuse to avoid writing and executing a comprehensive personnel plan. A plan feels useless “since there are no good people out there anyway.” It lets us off the hook of learning anything more than we already know. In return, this “planned failure” zaps our energy to look for greatness and gyps our company out of finding great employees. We also rob the would-be-great employees out of finding us.

Take Inventory

We have who we have at this time. Some of our employees are great. Some are good. Some are pretty good when they’re “on” (I love that one). Ultimately, the world spins fast, and things can come loose. People change. They move. Their spouse gets a great job out of town. We all suffer the fate of normal turnover at some level. This is more reason to work toward a team of great employees at all times because you never know when the fate of normal turnover will strike again.

The Battle

It can be chaos when we lose a good employee. And we’re really out of options if we have no replacements in mind. The battle for good people can be lost in many ways. Do we look for people only when we need them? Do we search with nothing more than an internet post...then wait and hope? Do we have a screening process prior to granting an interview? Do we use an interview guide or just ask whatever questions come to mind? Do we talk more than the interviewee?

The War

A bigger problem is losing the war. We can lose the war in two ways:

  1. We let this belief of good people are hard to find dissuade us from setting hiring goals (in sync with growth goals) in our company, and we fail to accept the responsibility to find them.
  2. We have such little faith in finding good people that we let our current employees erode the performance bar set for them.

Let’s look closer at #2 above. When we get lazy or careless in our personnel management (especially in recruiting), your team sees the stagnation. They see that you accept the bad along with the good instead of striving for “full-time awesome.” Your lack of recruiting and leadership can have a real effect on their productivity and attitudes. This is the error that can lead to the inmates running the asylum. We may find ourselves feeling so powerless that we begin to accept poorly performing, non-productive, and even counter-productive employees.

employee hiring practices

When the manager is unwilling to hold an employee’s feet to a standard (even if this means termination), the beginning of the end is here, and it’s a common cause of business failure. And, finally, now we can get to the business end of “When is it time to let them go?”

Why complicate this? The short answer is: When you are confident in your bench.

Managing Toward Greatness

If your team is managed toward greatness, the cancerous members will stand out. Between the energetic culture you build in your company and your ongoing recruiting efforts, confidence will make termination the natural step in the “development” of your bad employees. You will “promote” these employees right out the door — to go to work elsewhere.

The most important piece in personnel management decisions is objectivity. I state the obvious. Objectivity should be your constant goal in managing people, especially when things get rocky. By the time you reach the end of the road with an employee, plenty of objectivity and logical (possibly legal) cause for your decision to terminate should be in place, systematically documented and executed in the most professional manner possible.

I’m not trying to be a lawyer here. I am not a lawyer. I do not know every law in your state regarding employment, termination, discrimination, etc. I like to look at things as a dumb animal. I try to be a dumb animal as a practice. This has a way of keeping things simple, logical, and direct. I encourage it. But use lawyers when necessary.

I’d like to remind you that you didn’t decide to be self-employed for the chance to deal with low performers, attitudes, takers, lazies, and crooks. The vision of what you’re trying to build doesn’t likely include these. You have my permission and encouragement to get them out of your company.

When is it time to let them go? You now know.