15 Signs It May Be Time To Let An Employee Go

When a worker isn’t meeting your expectations, you may find yourself wondering if you should fire them. Letting an employee go is not a decision to be made lightly, so you want to ensure you’re making the right choice.

Once you’ve exhausted all other options to resolve the issue, you will need to take a careful look at the employee in question, their work and their behavior before making a final decision. To help, we asked the members of Forbes Business Council to share some signs and behaviors that indicate it’s time to let an employee go.

Photos courtesy of the individual members.

1. Lack Of Humility To Learn

Let’s face it, you will get a variety of personalities when you hire people. While competence is a factor for hiring, the lack of humility would be a criterion for firing. Company culture and processes are different everywhere you go. Humility is a key factor in trying to learn, then adding your own value to it. Completely ignoring this would be a consideration for letting someone go. – Brian Chew, OC Wills and Trust Attorneys

2. Evading Accountability And ‘Hot Seat’ Exercises

Without submission to leadership, high performers tend to stray from accountability, and pride slowly takes over their belief systems. The easiest sign to let them go is when they avoid role-playing or “hot seat” growth opportunities in front of their peers. We can’t extract greatness out of salespeople unless we can measure optics and metrics in real-time. Refuse accountability and lose your job! – Blake Templeton, Boron Capital – Creating World Class Investments

3. Lack Of Integrity

Regardless of how hardworking, intelligent or positive a person is, if their integrity is shady or becomes questionable, then the rest of their strengths go out the door. Someone will always pay the price for a lack of integrity and it better not be your company. The risk is just not worth it. – Melody Avecilla, Runway Heels

4. Not Living The Company Values

For both my companies, we have developed clear values that describe what is important within our culture. Every quarter, we rate our team against each of those values. Do they exhibit those values almost all of the time, sometimes or rarely? If one of our team members is not living our values then we sit down with them and coach them on what we expect. – Kevin Bonfield, Concentre

5. No Sense Of Ownership

Mistakes can be made, and we can all learn from them and move on. However, if an employee’s faults come from a lack of a sense of ownership of the job, then he or she is just performing tasks without seeing the value in it. This trait is a much-needed seed that everyone in your company needs to have. It is the main key for longevity and it cultivates the true passion to achieve a common goal. – Kristine Ileto, Alger-Triton International

6. Toxic Badmouthing

If it’s only a one-time occurrence, speak to the employee and find out why. There may be a reason for a grievance that can be settled, and better codes of conduct can be established. But when an employee consistently spreads undermining information about management, it’s time for them to go. Toxic information can infect the team. – Sharon Lynn Livingston, The Livingston Center for Professional Coaching

7. Lying

Being dishonest is the No. 1 red flag. If you’ve caught them lying, it’s time to let them go. I believe in giving one second chance if there is remorse and it seems like a legitimate mistake—past that you’re asking for trouble. Additionally, showing a lack of dedication to the company—such as engaging in negative gossiping—is cancerous and must be removed. – Skyler Ditchfield, GeoLinks

8. A Change In The Employee’s Mentality

When a new employee begins work, they are usually grateful for the opportunity of having a job and believe that their employer is doing them a favor. When the employee switches mentality and believes that they are doing the employer a favor by coming to work, it is time for them to leave. They must leave because they have come to feel entitled and will stop and/or become lazy with their current tasks. – Luke Lintz, HighKey Agency Inc.

9. A Bad Cultural Fit

If someone is a bad culture fit for your team, no amount of talent will make up for the damage they can do to productivity and morale. Consider Antonio Brown, an objectively incredible athlete and wide receiver who had a contentious relationship with his Steelers coach and quarterback. Despite his skill, he created too much conflict to stay. Find your bad culture fits and let them go. – Alex Castro, ReM Score

10. Not Meeting The Organizational Pace

An underestimated element of fit is pace. Some people move too fast for some organizations and end up breaking things. Others move too slowly and frustrate people. Someone doesn’t need to match the organization exactly, and bringing new speed or a sense of caution can actually be helpful. But they should be aware of the organizational pace and be actively learning to work with it in order to stay. – Amanda Daering, Newance

11. No Growth Mindset

True potential requires more than a positive attitude. There is a broader mental and emotional orientation towards the difficulties of change that can help us thrive in uncertainty. The inclination to view every challenge as a learning opportunity can transform virtually any situation—even failure—into a valuable lesson that propels us forward. This “growth mindset” may indicate future success. – Sean O’Neal, Onclusive, Inc.

12. A Negative Impact On The Rest Of The Team

Allowing poor performance or corrosive behavior sets your company up for poor team culture. What you allow says more about your values than any statement. When an employee is draining either the spirit or productivity, the end is near. Look for signs of co-worker avoidance or lack of desire to work collaboratively on projects—these are the first indicators that things need a deeper look. – Bret Brummitt, Generous Benefits

13. Changes In Behavior And Passion

Is this person a good fit for our company, or would they be happier somewhere else? Relationships fail when people aren’t a good match. Performance failures can be fixed if the person really wants to be there but just needs guidance, but the wrong attitude or the inability to treat colleagues with respect is and should be the deal-breaker. – Heather Newman, Content Panda/Creative Maven

14. Poor Alignment With Company Vision

I believe that one of the most important factors when considering employees is to assess whether they are truly connected to the company itself—whether they share the connection, vision and values that are conveyed; whether they are passionate and happy to work there; or whether it is just about the money. This will determine a lot about them and their roles, motivation and productivity. – Kevin Leyes, Leyes Media & Team Leyes, by Leyes Enterprises

15. Negative Attitude

Team members who are disengaged, haven’t bought into the mission or bring a negative attitude to their job are damaging. They can bring down the momentum of their work and their team members and impact other departments. Spotting signs of negativity can allow you to quickly address it and understand if it’s just a slump or if the person just isn’t “in it to win it” any longer with your company. – Kim Kross, Elevate K-12

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Forbes – Entrepreneurs

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