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How To Fire Bad Employees

Managing Talent

Overcoming the difficulty of letting someone go is never easy

Published on: July 12, 2013

In farming we often work side by side with our employees. We most likely know their families, their likes/dislikes, habits and much more. We try to keep the employer/employee distance, but that gets difficult after years of working with someone. The water gets a little muddy.

When an employee is not performing, becomes undermining or turns negative, it's hard to make those tough decisions to act, especially on those who you have come to know so well.

Too often a farm feels stuck in these situations. Sometimes years go by; even with all the dissatisfaction from management, the employee remains. What should a farm do?

For this blog, I am taking the assumption you have already had performance discussions about what you expect, and no improvement has occurred. The employee is aware of what needs to be fixed and they have chosen not to change.

Let's break this down logically trying to keep all emotions out of the equation.

Reduce fear

First, take the fear out of finding a replacement. It will take time and effort to find a great replacement, but anyone can be replaced. You may choose to delay the search until your slower season, that's just good business.  A delay of a season is better than a delay for years.

Fear number two is typically a concern your employee will not be able to find another job. I find that not to be the case in most scenarios. They will find something else, maybe something more suitable for their skill level and personality than the position on your farm.  Remember, it was their choice not to change and therefore you should not feel responsible to ensure they have a job.

The last point is actually going through with it. Even if you have come to terms that firing is best for the company, it is difficult to hold that conversation with the person you know so well. Some of my most uncomfortable conversations in my entire career have been in these situations. A few options to soften the news is to offer them several weeks of severance pay and write them a letter of recommendation highlighting the skills they are strongest in.

You ultimately have to make the decision what's right for your farm. If you want some advice on your scenario in how to handle or quick tips on recruitment, let's chat about it: lori@agprovise.com.