When an Employee Isn’t Working Out, Is It Better to Terminate or Reassign Them?

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Forest Today’s question comes from a busy entrepreneur:

Is it better to terminate or reassign an employee that is not working out?

I have spent a lot of time training an employee. She is a great person, but I have to remind her several times to do something. I am not sure if she is just not in the right role or if she will always need so much oversight. I am curious how others have handled something like this.

You are not alone. Many new business owners struggle with this same question.

One thing to keep in mind (at all times) is that you are in the business to make money. You essentially hire staff to help you achieve your business goals.

You are not responsible for your employees’ happiness or success in their roles and responsibilities. You can encourage, support, and train them – but you are not ultimately responsible for their success. They are.

Your Responsibilities

What you are responsible for is providing clear goals and directives. You accomplish this by several methods:

  1. Craft clear, engaging mission, vision, and purpose statements, and make sure to disseminate them to employees.
  2. Hold frequent one-on-one meetings with your employees to make sure they understand not only the overall company mission, but also how their specific roles fit into the larger plan.
  3. Work with employees to craft personal business commitment plans that clearly outline their goals in the SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound) format.

Once you have clearly articulated your business goals to employees and outlined each employee’s specific roles and responsibilities, you can start to determine whether a specific employee is “right” for your company.

Have You Provided Proper Training?

CameraBefore you hire staff members, you need to make sure that your training and orientation materials are in place. If you don’t want to be stuck hovering over the new employee’s shoulder, you need to have the proper tools, resources, and processes in place. This might include things like:

  1. Checklists and process documents that outline the employee’s tasks.
  2. Frequent status meetings to review employee progress and performance.
  3. A “buddy system” in which a more senior staff member helps a new hire get adjusted.
  4. Automation of the more tedious and error-prone tasks involved in a new hire’s job.
  5. Considering whether or not each task actually has a business reason that justifies its existence (e.g., does the task generate revenue?)

Once you have streamlined your processes and policies, you can be assured that you have given your employees  the best possible roadmap to success.

Is the Employee Right for the Job?

When your resources and processes are in place and all the SMART goals are set, it will be fairly easy to assess each employee’s fit. All you have to do is measure your employee’s performance against their SMART goals to see whether or not they’re right for the job.

Once you have clearly articulated the expectations for the position and streamlined the responsibly and procedures, then more often than not, the employee will actually decide whether or not the position is right for them. You may not have to make any decisions at all.

If the employee does need to improve their performance, then get specific with them. What do they need to do, and and how much time do they have to do it? What will be the consequences if they do not achieve these specific things within the deadline?


If you are “wishy-washy” on your expectations, it’s easy for your employees to give you “wishy-washy” results. Document your expectations and the consequences for failing to meet expectations well, make sure your employee understand them all, and it will be much, much easier to decide whether or not an employee is right for your organization or role.

In fact, employees will often make that decision for themselves.

For more information on everything discussed here, feel free to reach out to Laura: [email protected]

Read more in Personnel Management

Laura Lee Rose is a speaker and author. She is an expert in time and project management. Through her business coaching practice, she helps busy professionals and entrepreneurs create effective systems so that they can comfortably delegate to others, be more profitable, and have time to enjoy life, even if they don’t have time to learn new technology or train their staff.  She has a knack for turning big ideas into on-time and profitable projects.

If you are ready to transform your business from a 'business you need to support' into a 'business that supports you,' contact Laura at [email protected]