How to Know It’s Time to Part Ways with an Employee

This article was written by Kristen McCormick, Marketing Manager at Janeiro Digital, with input from Jonathan Bingham, President & CEO at Janeiro Digital. Janeiro Digital partners with Startup Institute to gain access to the talent in Startup Institute’s extensive alumni community, such as Kristen — a spring 2015 graduate.

All employers want their employees to be happy and productive. What that looks like will vary from company to company, but what that doesn’t look like is universal. When an employee is unsatisfied, this tends to manifest in falling short on deliverables, disengaging during meetings, or opting out of team gatherings.

The good news is, there’s almost always a solution. The bad news is that there’s almost always a solution. While it’s your responsibility to equip your employees with the tools and opportunities to thrive, it’s their responsibility to seize these opportunities and leverage them. If they’re not doing this, there may be some deeper issues at hand — not in terms of character flaws or incompetencies, but rather a misalignment of culture, mission, and skill set. An employee may be incredibly talented, but without these three fundamentals in place, discord is likely to form, and efforts to find a solution may be futile, even detrimental.

1. Culture

When an employee meshes well with the culture, the action and communication needed to maintain satisfaction comes easily. If they are discontented or in need of support, either they will feel comfortable enough to address it, or they will interact with their teammates enough for one of them to notice and step in.

However, if the unsatisfied employee becomes withdrawn and unavailable, this is a sign of an improper culture fit. It is likely that there is a better environment for them elsewhere, where they can more naturally give and receive feedback to ensure mutual satisfaction.

2. Mission

While it’s important for an employee to understand your company’s mission, it’s essential for them to believe in it. When they do, their job gives them purpose. They are eager to contribute in any way that they can, even if it may sometimes involve less favorable or more mundane tasks. Without passion, an employee’s energy and motivation must be manufactured and is therefore not sustainable. In this case, it may be best for you to help them to identify what’s important to them and then to pursue applicable companies where they’ll be happier and more productive.

3. Skills

When an employee’s skills are relevant, their sense of contribution to the mission encourages and further drives them. In the opposite case, they become bored or stressed. A simple shift in role or some extra help may do the trick. However, if this becomes a pattern, then it’s more likely that either the desire to learn is not there or the core skill set needed is lacking. This does not mean the person is stubborn or incompetent, but rather that their strengths will be more valuable and will bring more fulfillment elsewhere.

As an employer, a natural amount of effort is required to ensure your employees are succeeding, contributing, and growing. But without the above three requisites, this effort is not likely to be effective, and is likely to cause frustration and ultimately impact other employees or clients.

The bottom line is this — if you make staffing decisions based on culture, mission, and skills, the chances of mutual satisfaction and success are much more likely.

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Kristen McCormick
Kristen McCormick
Senior Web Content Writer

Kristen is a values-driven team builder and problem solver with a background in writing, psychology, human services, and marketing. She is currently the Senior Web Content Writer at ThriveHive. Previously, he was the Marketing Manager of Janeiro Digital. Kristen is also a Startup Institute alumna from the spring 2015 cohort.
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