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zensky's avatar

How many chances do you give someone before firing them?

Asked by zensky (13380points) August 1st, 2012

Obviously this question is meant for those who manage.

I am sure it depends on the situation and person – but do you think people learn from mistakes and should be given a second chance?

If it’s menial labour, or a minimum wage job – does that make a difference?

I wish I could elaborate on the situation I face – but I cannot.

Thanks for your comments and understanding.

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25 Answers

DrBill's avatar

3 for a minor infraction

1 for a major infraction

zensky's avatar

@DrBill It was a major infraction. Not life threatening or anything. But do you think one can learn and then grow?

Coloma's avatar

Well, clearly there are many deciding factors, including self examination to determine if there is something about the person, in general, aside from their work ethics etc. that you dislike on a cellular level. If you determine you are not feeling biased because of personality differences and the issue has been addressed at least 2–3 times, with a prior warning, then it may be time to terminate.
I would not terminate someone without at least one prior warning.

Yes, I do think people learn and grow, and second chances are not unreasonable if it does not involve flagrant negligence.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

Depends on the size of your team. If you have a large team, you talk to their lead and find out what they are really good at, then you move them.

If it is a small team, 1 major mess up, you talk to them, fire them on the second.

DrBill's avatar

@zensky some people can learn, but I can only generalize without knowing what they did.

you may PM me if you would like an in depth analysis of the infraction

JLeslie's avatar

If it has to do with theft or doing something that shows lack of integrity – one time you are out.

If it is a mistake, at least two screw ups until fired. If it is a different thing every time, but mistakes happening often, then probably on the fourth they would be gone. I would document everything, not only for legal reasons to protect myself and the company, but because sitting down with the employee to advise them they have messed up is also a time to see if there is some way to prevent it from happening again. Give them a chance to articulate their side, maybe the job is a bad fit for them, maybe they need more training, maybe they would do much better in a different position in the company.

It matters how close together the mistakes happen, and also how long they have been serving the company.

I always would try to help an employee do better, rather than immediately think to fire them, unless again it is an integrity issue.

Coloma's avatar

@JLeslie Right, not issues of integrity, issues of oversight, neglect, lack of knowledge, not character defects. lol

JLeslie's avatar

I forgot to answer about the level of the job. It would make very little difference to me if they were doing menial labor, or had a job with more responsibilties. I guess possibly if they were managers themselves with supposedly a lot of experience, then a big screw up might be less tolerable or less excusable.

Ron_C's avatar

@DrBill has it about right. I hate to fire people and love to hire competent ones. If I have to fire someone, it means that I screwed up somewhere and I have to question myself.

zensky's avatar

@Ron_C I know. I feel like shit

WestRiverrat's avatar

It depends on the job too. The janitor gets more chances to screw up than a paramedic for instance.

zensky's avatar

When you fire someone – how much does it say about you?

JLeslie's avatar

@zensky Is it your own company? Or, you are a manager in the company? All I remember is you teach English.

wonderingwhy's avatar

As you said it’s very situationally dependent. As a general rule, 3-strikes and you’re out, but that can easily be 1-strike, same day, you’re gone (e.g. knowingly lying to the client, (criminal) misuse of resources, sabotage) or a one-on-one sit down to try and work things out (e.g. missed deadlines/meetings, lapse in planning). It really comes down to a call on their intention, effort, and judgement.

zensky's avatar

@JLeslie It’s something I do besides TESL. I can’t elaborate but at least we got a discussion about firing out of it.

DrBill's avatar


It says nothing about you if you were deceived by them when they were hired.

It says good things about you that you correct a problem, weather that be by a warning or a pink slip.

JLeslie's avatar

@zensky I only asked, because I wondered if you are being forced to fire them. I should have just asked you that directly, instead of the other question.

It sounds to me like you think or feel you have to fire the person. That the screw up is too big.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I believe @wonderingwhy has said it very well.

Good luck to you, @zensky.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Your current employees that are picking up the slack for the screw up will appreciate it too.

zenvelo's avatar

For most things on my staff it was:
1. Documented Verbal Warning
2. Written Final Warning
3. Fired.

But it also depended on the time period. A verbal received in 2007 carries no weight in 2012. And, as everyone said, it depends on the severity.

tranquilsea's avatar

It really depended on that employee’s history with me and the company. It also depended on what may or may not have been going on in that employee’s life.

For general failure to perform: I would put them on notice and draw up goals they needed to meet to continue employment. I’d offer a lot of support through that time to help them meet those goals. If they failed to meet them then I’d let them go.

For more serious infractions it really depended. If it was theft then I’d immediately let them go. For other things it really all depended on the situation.

augustlan's avatar

If it’s an honest mistake, even a big one, I would talk to them and try to teach them how not to make it again. If they make it again, they’ll likely be fired. Depending on the situation, they might just get a final warning.

If it’s a purposeful act and is clearly against company policy, the law, or endangers life, they’re gone.

Jenniehowell's avatar

I’ve managed people in the medical field, in the military & in my own business

For me the general rule is 3 strikes & you’re out. I feel that if I have trained you sufficiently for the task & you screw it up 3 times or more then you’re not competent to do the job. But each case is different when things go beyond whether a person had sufficient training.

For instance, life & death related jobs then fire them on the first offense, if their infraction relates to the loss of a large percentage of money or involves any bigoted hate fueled behavior fire them, if they purposefully disrespect the bosses, managers, owners etc fire them, if they are playing games or purposefully sabotaging coworkers fire them, sexual harrassment or theft fire them.

It’s all relative to what they’ve done & in what sort of environment/workplace it is done in

Bellatrix's avatar

It depends on the problem. Someone who is deliberately rude or behaves in an otherwise inappropriate manner to/with a student will not keep their job.

Otherwise, I would speak to the person about the problem, instigate training and give them another chance. Evaluate their performance after a period of time and provide more feedback and training or if there has been no improvement let them go. Unless it is a serious infraction, I prefer to make sure I have given the person training, feedback and support before letting them go. If that doesn’t work though, I have a duty of care to our students to have quality teachers working with them.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

The company I worked for had a training program for all managers on how to effectively have these discussions with employees. The steps were to:
1.) State the problem objectively
2.) Find out why the problem occurred
3.) Coach them through building a plan to correct the problem (their input is vital)
4.) Let them know the repercussions if it isn’t resolved
5.) Set a follow-up meeting

The follow-up meeting gave us a chance to either give positive feedback for fixing the problem or find out why it wasn’t working. In the latter case, maybe more time was needed. Maybe the plan of action didn’t work out and we were able to revamp it. Or in a few cases, it became a written or final warning.

It’s a really great process. With one employee, I found out that he was arriving to work almost 30 minutes late every day because his car broke down and he was restricted by the bus schedule. We were able to temporarily flip his schedule with another employee, and voilĂ , problem solved.

It’s time-consuming, but if the problem can be solved and positive feedback is given, it builds a bond between the manager and employee. Most team members just want to do well and be recognized for it. If it comes down to having to terminate an employee, then there is rarely any doubt on their part as to why this is taking place.

If it is a serious violation and/or against standards, and it could be proven that they committed it, they were terminated as soon as HR gave the nod of approval.

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