What Does It Mean to Be a ‘Poor Fit?’
When we think about good fit and bad fit employees, most of the time the conversation is revolving around hiring. After all, by hiring the right person for the right team and job, businesses can avoid the whole topic of bad fit firings altogether.
That’s obviously easier said than done, though. If everyone that was hired at every organization was the perfect match, the recruitment industry wouldn’t exist.
Being a good or bad fit is largely an issue of corporate culture. Does the new hire mesh well with the pre-existing team in a way that strengthens the team and allows for the new hire to immediately get to work and thrive?
If they do, then they are largely a good fit. If they struggle to adapt to the team and seem to have personality differences that aren’t allowing them to work well with others, then you may have a poor fit on your hands.
Someone getting fired for not being a good fit is generally regarded as a last-ditch effort to address the problem. No one wants to have a high level of turnover, especially the person that was just hired and will now have to find a new job after landing one. This can put management and HR at an impasse. Do you fire someone for not being a good fit or do you try to work with them and see what happens? How long should you wait?
These questions do not have a blanket answer that all organizations can abide by. Instead, it really is determined by how poor of a fit the person is and how hard it would be to replace them with someone who will perform better.
When Can You Fire Someone Who Is Not a Good Fit?
Firing someone who is a poor fit at your organization is a definite possibility. First, though, you have to consider a few things.
The biggest concern with firing someone who is not a good fit is that you have to make sure that the claim against the person isn’t discriminatory.
Let’s say you have a workforce that is predominantly white and male. If an asian woman is hired and fired for being a poor fit, there’s a case to be made that she was let go because of her race and sex, which is discriminatory. This can be said even if the real reason she was let go is because her personality didn’t mesh well with the organization.
So how do you make sure that your practices are all above board when it comes down to firing a poor fit employee? Basically, you have to be able to show that you have a policy that indicates that you let go people who don’t fit in. Just like firing anyone, you should have a written outline of how people are let go, documenting everything the person did for you to come to your decision. This helps show the timeline of events and how they played out so, if you are taken to court, you will be able to show what happened officially.
How to Fire Someone Who Is Not a Good Fit
And this is where we get into the core of it. Firstly, in order to fire someone for not being a good fit, you need to have a process figured out that can help you identify poor fit employees. Now, this can be quite easy to spot simply by looking at how your team operates with the new person. However, a policy on paper will make this whole process easier and more legally sound. Perpetually toxic behaviours, such as gossiping, bullying, disrespect, and general negativity, are like cancer to your culture and must be eradicated.
After you have a way to identify poor fit employees, you must start to document their behaviour and how it is not meshing well with your team and/or culture. By keeping a record of what’s happening, you can make sure that termination goes off without a hitch. So to do this, you need to document all of the issues that the new hire is having to show that they aren’t working out because their personality, work ethic, and things of that nature are not meshing with the current team and causing problems. Just like when you go to fire someone for rule-breaking, a well-documented case makes the whole process easier and can help you avoid legal troubles down the road.
When it’s time to dismiss an employee for poor cultural fit, best practices should be followed, which include: holding a meeting and providing an official termination letter that details the decision and why it’s been made. During this meeting, make sure that you allow the employee to say what they need to say (within reason) and make sure you actually listen. If they really aren’t fitting in, chances are that they aren’t enjoying working for your organization and may have even seen this coming. On the other hand, they may be completely blind-sided (though you should be working with them on the problem before simply up and firing them). Be ready for either response. Also, keep the meeting to the point and as short as possible. You need to tell the employee the specific details of the firing, including how they will be paid their final check and things of that nature. Basically, this should be your firing process across the board, regardless of whether or not it is because of a poor fit hire or a disciplinary action.
The Benefits of firing the not good fit
When a layoff occurs, employees who are impacted are generally extended benefits that are not offered to those being fired. This is largely because, on paper, a layoff in an involuntary termination while a firing is a voluntary one (because the firing is usually due to the employee’s actions). Because being a poor fit at an organization is really a hiring mishap most of the time, those being fired for not being a good fit should be extended key benefits, too.
The first is a severance agreement and payment. By having those that are fired for not being a good fit sign a severance agreement, you protect yourself from potential lawsuits while also providing the employee a payment that can seriously help them get through their job transition.
Alongside the severance agreement, you should also consider offering outplacement services to the employee. As a refresher, outplacement is a service offered to outbound staff members that helps them get back to work in a new role faster than going it alone.
Then all is said and done, you are definitely empowered to fire bad fit employees who do not mesh well with your culture.
To do so, ensure that you treat the firing with care by documenting all actions and making a case to let them go. We recommend you do this for every firing because it shows why the move was made and helps protect against claims of discrimination.
Though it should go without saying, you need to make sure that you are legitimately not discriminating against workers because of their race, sex, religion, etc. Always talk to your legal counsel if you have any questions about following local, state, and federal laws. We are not lawyers.
Once you have the case made to actually fire the employee, we recommend notifying them with a meeting and written letter. You should also seriously consider offering outplacement services alongside a well-crafted severance agreement that details the termination and protects you from lawsuits.
If you handle it properly, offboarding a poor fit employee doesn’t have to be super stressful. Just make sure you plan in advance even if you can, technically, fire people at will.