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How To Fire A Loyal But Incompetent Employee: A Guide For Professional Managers

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How to fire a loyal but incompetent staff employee

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If you must fire a loyal employee for incompetence, then you have to do it right. Remember they have proved to be loyal over the period, which is a major desirable trait in employees. On the flip side, they are unproductive, which makes them unfit for business.

Firing an employee requires as much thoughtfulness as hiring them in the first place, especially if they have worked with you for a long time.

Most times, you look back at all the time and resources that went into securing the employee, and you simply don’t want to repeat the exhausting selection processes afresh, or incur related costs again.

However, professional managers know that firing is just as important as hiring.

Terminating the job of an unproductive employee is a decision every employer and human resource manager must go ahead with, as soon as the necessity is justified.

Of course, it is easier to fire a staff who is reputed to be a notorious rebel, and constantly fights against the company’s modus operandi and values.

In this case, the decision to fire them is justified, as employees of this type will end up contaminating the work culture you encourage, with their indecent, unethical and complacent approach to issues of work.

Nevertheless, there are these other set of employees that you may be reluctant to fire. You like them because they are caring, self-sacrificing and loyal to the core. But in terms of business, they do not meet up with the company’s expectations of productivity, and continuing to retain them would constitute a bad HR decision.

What To Do Before Deciding To Fire A Loyal Employee For Incompetence

Only a bad boss will go ahead to fire any member of staff on the basis of unproductivity, without first trying measures aimed at giving them another chance to prove themselves.

On the other hand, good managers make sure to do the following:

1. Find out the reason for their incompetence

Do they lack the basic training for the job role they currently handle in your organization?

Does their personality type affect their ability to fit into the role?

Do they have access to support?

Are they facing health or family issues that affect their dedication to tasks?

Finding the answer to these question will help you decide your next best course of action.

It is possible that the employee in question aced the interview for the job they handle in your company, because they are smart. Subsequently, they could not keep up with the pace of work in your company.

This is common with employees who got their job offers despite having no previous work experience.

If this is the case with your employee, then you should consider giving them another round of orientation, retraining, and mentorship.

2. Strategically arrange for them to undergo extra training, coaching, mentorship programmes, role change and support

The reason you must do this is because loyalty is fast declining among employees.

In today’s world, it is easier for your employees to access and take advantage of opportunities to become your competitor, or join your competition (using your very own company’s free WiFi). So, it makes sense to attempt improving the performance of an employee with proven records of loyalty to your company. They are likely to stay with longer, while contributing their best to the growth of your business.

In addition, it is easier for the said employee to accept their inevitable fate if you eventually decide to fire them, when they can judge for themselves that all training and re-orientation they have been subjected to, has failed to achieve the desire results.

How Do you Fire A Loyal Employee For Incompetence?

1. Make up your mind that this ain’t personal. You are doing it for the business, and your personal feelings do not have to come in the way.

2. Call them into your office first, before making an open announcement. Inform them of management’s decision to let them go. Be as empathetic as possible while talking to them.

3. Assure them that this could be the best thing that happens to them in their career. They should pick the challenge and go ahead to upgrade their skills and competencies. In the future, taking such a step will offer a long term advantage for career growth. They could also be inspired to go pursue their real dreams. Perhaps, the reason they are under performing at their job, is because, deep down the job does not align with their personal life ambitions.

4. Ask them if they have any questions. Answer them as politely as possible. Do not get overly emotional with words and body language. Try not to shed tears, even when you are so emotionally touched by their condition.

5. Tell them that everyone in the team will soon get to know about this recent development, but this does not mean they should hide their head in shame, or let their self esteem sink.

6. If you can help them get another opportunity in (or recommend them to) a company where you feel their strengths will be an asset, feel free to make that promise.

7. Hand them the letter of job termination.

8. Wish them the best

9. Go ahead to prepare their severance package. This will sustain the fired employee until they can start earning again. According to, “when you offer severance benefits, it lets all your employees know that, even if the worst happens, you have some level of regard for them and will not leave them high and dry. It’s also a good advertisement for anyone who may be thinking of joining your company.”

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