Reasons to fire an employee aren’t always obvious
I’m really excited about sharing these insights with you, because creating a great culture in your business can be a real challenge. Firing people who aren’t the right fit, aren’t contributing to your business’ culture, or aren’t meeting expectations in their role is almost always appropriate — I’m assuming you’re following your HR guidelines to a T here, gang! You are, right?
Today, I’m going to share some reasons to fire an employee that aren’t your run of the mill examples for transitioning someone out of your organization, but nevertheless are concrete examples of fireable offenses we’ve faced at Cardone Ventures.
Some of these examples might shock you. They definitely shocked me. They also gave me the opportunity to grow and learn and have a deeper understanding of who we want representing our organization.
Believe it or not, these are all things that actually happened to us, and thank goodness we were able to transition away from these people before things got worse and it denigrated our brand.
So let our learning experiences be your forewarning when it comes to finding the right people, and knowing when to let them go when they’re obviously not. Ready to dive in? Let’s go!
- They’re going to the strip club on company time
Insane that I even have to state this, isn’t it? But it actually happened! Now, if this is something that your people choose to do on their own free time, then that’s their business. It’s a free country.
However, this particular situation was one where we had team members dressed in company attire who actually took clients of ours to the club and then posted about it on social media!
A word of warning: It’s essential that you have a company policy in place (like we do) about what is and what is not acceptable when it comes to interacting socially with clients. In general, it’s just not really appropriate at all.
We have a policy, we have training, and we make it very clear what our expectations are regarding employee and client interactions, so when this came to our attention, we just had to address it.
They denied it was true, but we had photographic evidence, and so not only was the policy broken, but we were lied to about it. We did the only sensible thing, and we let them go. This was not a “let’s give them another chance” sort of thing. Boundaries matter.
Trust was broken. Our reputation hung in the balance. So we parted ways. If this happens to you, I highly recommend you do the same thing we did to protect your business’s integrity.
- They’re blatantly insubordinate
Have you ever had a team member approach you with an idea about a new product, service, or process?
Sometimes, these are great ideas and it’s the perfect time to embrace them and make them real. Other times, either the idea just isn’t a solid one, or it’s not the right time for your company to take on that new thing. And at the end of the day, you’re in charge and it’s your call. You get to say no.
How your “No” is responded to means everything. Ideally, your decision is respected. But sometimes you say no and this person just decides to pursue it anyway, ignoring your decision, wasting resources, and watering down the respect in your culture that you’ve worked so hard to earn.
Recently, I had a team member who asked me if they could throw a company party while 80% of our team was at an event. It just didn’t make sense. So, via email, I denied the request.
I came to find out about a week later that not only did this employee schedule the event, they called it something ridiculous like, “The Cool Kids Lunch.”
So, they ignored my decision, isolated several other team members who apparently aren’t “cool,” and had the audacity to charge everyone to pay for their lunch even though the people who came did so thinking it was a Cardone-sanctioned event. AND THEY DOCUMENTED ALL OF IT.
Terrible judgment. Zero respect. Selfish actions. This person was terminated immediately. (And, honestly, their documentation of the above made that process much, much easier.)
- They’re consistently late/They don’t value others’ time
Listen, being late happens sometimes. As much as Brandon and I do everything in our power to not be late, it happens to us sometimes, too. It never feels good. We know how valuable everyone’s time is.
So, would I fire someone for being late once? No, probably not. The circumstances would have to be pretty extreme.
But would I fire somebody for being late to a significant client meeting that they had plenty of time to prepare for and they were just very nonchalant about wasting everyone’s time? Yes, I absolutely would.
Why? Because who are we here to serve? What are we doing all of this for? Our clients, of course. And if our clients aren’t being served at the highest level and they get the impression that we’re lackadaisical when it comes to how we handle business, then what’s the real message we’re sending them? It’s not one I’m comfortable with.
I’m not unrealistic about this, either. If you’re someone who is in a client-facing role, has internal team meetings, and is juggling Slack, Zoom, Google Meet, and all the other platforms that will glitch and make us late from time to time, I can sympathize with you.
But if you’re just unapologetically late, and it happens more than three times, you’re done. I value my time, and you’re wasting it. It’s disrespectful. You’re impacting a lot of people in a negative way. And it’s time for you to move on.
- They steal from you
This is a matter of integrity, folks. It shouldn’t matter how much or how little, if someone is willing to steal because they think you’re not paying attention, then they deserve to be fired.
And boy oh boy, do I have a good example of this one to share with you.
We once had an employee who took their entire family on a Hawaiian vacation and used our corporate credit card to pay for it. Let me say that again. WE HAD AN EMPLOYEE TAKE THEIR FAMILY ON A HAWAIIAN VACATION USING OUR CORPORATE CARD.
There were hotel charges. There were meal charges. There were even jewelry charges! They bought sunglasses. Basically everything.
They never said anything to anyone, of course, but within a few days our Controller brought these expenses to our attention. At first, we were like, “Is this related to someone’s goals? Did we pay for this person’s vacation intentionally?” Obviously, this was not the case.
When we figured out who it was and confronted them about it, they proceeded to deny everything. They tried to claim that they were taking care of a child’s medical issue while they were on PTO. We even contacted AmEx to make sure that we weren’t falsely accusing them, but we were assured it was swiped in person.
After some additional sleuthing, we confirmed that they indeed had taken their family on a Hawaiian vacation on our card, spent over $10,000, and then blatantly lied about it.
They were fired immediately. And then the police opened an investigation.
- They’re behaving unethically on behalf of the business
Ethics don’t have to simply pertain to things like strip clubs. There are numerous ways in which someone can behave unethically in your business.
For example, we once had a team member and client who struck up a friendship, and the client was filling the team member’s calendar with meetings in an effort to keep them from feeling overworked.
They were basically being paid to do nothing. Actually, less than nothing. They were napping on the job!
There are all sorts of issues with this situation, and one of them is the employee complaining to the client about their job. It simply isn’t appropriate, and it completely colors the perception your client has of the business, and it’s almost always inaccurate.
So, not only is this person creating a toxic relationship with the client, they are no doubt influencing others around them in the business, too.
This doesn’t mean that other team members will start behaving this way, but they’ll probably have to pick up the other person’s slack, and that will definitely create an air of animosity within the team.
It’s a recipe for disaster, born out of selfishness and laziness. Get these people out of there as quickly as possible!
- They have a negative attitude
Perhaps the term “negative attitude” is too limiting. If you’re dealing with an employee who has an attitude that is a drain on your organization, then it needs to be dealt with accordingly.
You already know the exact type of person I’m talking about. They push back for no other reason than to push back. Every time you head into a meeting you already know how it’s gonna go, and you kinda dread it because their behavior creates an atmosphere of negativity.
This person isn’t a resource. They’re an obstacle. This has to be nipped in the bud, and take it from me, it’s not always easy, but it has to be done.
There’s no need to stoop to their level and call them out in front of everyone, but you do need to address the behavior privately, and you need to document the conversation. And if it persists, then you need to part ways, because things aren’t gonna change. They’re not going to change! So you need to make that change for them.
- They’re a lying liar who lies
Seriously, people who lie just cannot be trusted.
If I ask somebody for specific, project-related information, I expect to be told the truth. Trust is a central part of any relationship. But you need to verify what you’re being told.
Like, if I’m working on a video project and I’m told that there are 8 videos, but only 4 were produced, was I really lied to? Maybe! But maybe not. You gotta ask a follow-up question.
Sometimes, people get confused and make mistakes. No big deal. But if you’ve discovered that you’re being told what you want to hear or what makes them look good in the moment, vs. what’s true, then you’ve got a problem on your hands.
I tend to look at things this way: At Cardone Ventures, we’re building a rocket ship. Rocket ships require precision. We need people who know how to use data — accurate data — to make critical decisions that will determine whether we make it into space or whether we burn up in the atmosphere. This requires an incredible level of trust.
If I have the wrong information, it could be the life or the death of our business. Our clients rely on us. They depend on us. Our being truthful and accurate and committed to our values means everything.
When someone shows you they can’t abide by those standards, then they’ve told you everything you need to know. Cut ‘em loose.
- They fill you with a lack of confidence
This one goes hand in hand with number seven. Let me show you how.
If you suspect that you can’t trust someone, then your confidence in them has been shaken. If you’ve discovered that they purposely obfuscate the truth or blatantly lie, then your confidence in them is broken.
How in the world are you going to get that rocket ship to launch let alone all the way to the moon if your confidence in your team is broken? It just isn’t possible.
Here’s the difference between numbers 7 and 8. If they’re a liar, then fire their ass. Immediately. If they do things that shake your confidence in them, then a “three strikes and you’re out” rule can apply. But you’ve got to follow through on that, when they do make that third strike.
Why does this matter so much? One, incompetent people hold everyone back. Secondly, everyone on the team is forced to carry the weight of an incompetent person. And third, failing to deal directly with an incompetent team member makes you an incompetent leader. Period.
Your team will lose faith in you. You’ll start to lose the good people you have. And without good people, you’re never gonna get to the moon.
Remove them, and the entire environment will shift, and I can guarantee you that your team’s respect for you will grow, because you’re taking their success seriously.
- They won’t take advantage of professional growth opportunities
At Cardone Ventures, we have a really robust training program called Cardone University. Every day, we take required training. They’re designed to make each and every one of us more effective in the business.
Our policy is, if anyone misses three of these training sessions in any given month, that they’re going to be terminated. It’s very clear. There’s a policy in place. The expectations are set.
And I never had to address this, until I did, and it was such a bummer. Like, we’re all here, and this is a basic part of our day — it’s built into the system. I started to question whether or not I was making the right decision, but I caught myself when I really thought about it.
At the end of the day, what are we here to do? It’s to serve our clients. And what is that training platform designed to do? Help us be better at serving our clients.
This gig requires discipline. We’re on a mission to achieve our personal, professional, and financial goals. That takes an investment. And we do all we can to create an environment where people see and understand the value of investing in yourself, so that you can really achieve everything that you want out of life.
When you see someone just kinda blow off those opportunities, especially when these trainings are a company priority and policy, then they really are telling you that they’re not interested in being a part of the organization. They’ve already self-selected. There’s no reason to continue wasting one another’s time.
- They’re incapable of producing results
They might be someone who is incredibly nice. They might make everyone laugh. They might be the most well-liked person in the company, but if they’re not able to generate the results you hired them to create, then why are they an employee of your business?
Like, if you’ve hired a director of marketing and he knows nothing about marketing, but you just like spending time with them and he makes you laugh and you know, it just, it’s easy to work alongside him, but he isn’t actually doing his job, are you really just keeping a friend on the payroll while completely failing at meeting your marketing goals?
There should be very clear expectations for each and every employee role in your company, and the people who have those roles absolutely need to be held accountable to meeting your expectations.
Your expectations are what their performance is measured against. And you should be discussing their results on a weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis.
If their actual performance doesn’t meet the target goal, then you can have a performance improvement discussion.
I personally hate having to discipline people when they’re underperforming. I hate it. I just want people to like me, but the reality is that I’m an executive in this company, and one of the expectations placed on me is that I hold my people accountable, so that’s what I’ve learned to do. I’m committed to my goals. I seek that same level of commitment and performance from my team.
So if you’ve created clarity around the role, you’ve set expectations, and you’ve strived to implement a performance improvement plan and things still aren’t working, then it’s time to move on. Things aren’t going to change. So it’s time for you to change things.
Phew! I’m so grateful to all of you who have read this far and are loyal followers of me and the Cardone Ventures brand. There’s so much that we can do together in the spirit of achieving our personal, professional, and financial goals.
If you find this insight valuable, then I would encourage you to join me and Brandon and the entire Cardone Ventures team at one of our upcoming events. Our 10X360 events are an incredible opportunity to get a comprehensive view of your business, and what you can do to 10X your company, and your life.
These spaces fill up fast, so REGISTER NOW to save your spot. I’ll see you there!