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Is It Better to Coach And Counsel A Troubled Employee, Or Terminate Them?

I don’t know about your area of the country, but in Denver, CO, it is getting harder and harder to find qualified candidates for open positions. Talk with any hiring manager and they will tell you, time to fill positions is taking longer and longer, and even when you do find someone to fill those roles, oftentimes they aren’t your top choice. Too often lately the top choice doesn’t even apply for your position.

With these hiring issues, managers are having to decide if it’s worth it to lose an employee they would normally terminate, because they know how difficult it’s going to be to find a replacement. While there isn’t one answer that fits all situations, here are some pros and cons of both positions. In the end, each situation will have to be looked at to determine what is better, keeping the troubled employee or going without their assistance while you scour dismal resumes to find their replacement.

Keeping the troubled employee

Pros Cons
They know your business Time consuming to coach/counsel an employee.  The manager must devote time to the troubled employee.
You know their strengths/weaknesses Keeping a bad employee can cause other employees to go bad too.  
It’s time consuming and expensive to find replacements There’s no guarantee that they are going to change and after you invest the time required.
If they have specialized knowledge, that make it’s even more difficult to find a replacement When you do find the replacement, you must train them, and this takes time.  They don’t know your business.
  You don’t know the new hires strengths/weaknesses

If you do decide to keep the employee, you must consider how they are impacting their peers.  One bad apple can spoil the lot, and if this is happening, your problems are only going to get worse.  You must also look at the strengths of the manager over that troubled employee.  Are they good at coaching and counselling?  Can they follow through on issues and hold people accountable?  If you start the process of a corrective action with an employee, the manager must also be an active participant in the process of correcting the issues.  If your manager can’t or won’t, then there’s no way the issue is going to be fully resolved.  You have to inspect what you expect.  Not sure what that means?  If you are going to lay down expectations for any employee, you must come back around and see if they are following through on them.  If they aren’t, address that right away.  If they are, let them know that they are, but come back around again to make sure they are STILL following them. 

If you’re going to terminate the employee, make sure you have clear, impersonal documentation on what happened, what you did to try to correct it, and what happened that ultimately lead to their termination.  Remember, if you have don’t have it documented, the conversation NEVER took place.

Not sure where to go or what to do?  Reach out to one of our highly skilled Human Resources professionals.  We can custom tailor training for you and/or your managers, help conduct internal investigations, assist with the recruiting efforts, and a whole lot more.  Send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we’ll get back to you quickly.

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