Hiring the right people is key for success in any business, and maybe even more so in the service industry where the ones who are interacting on a day-to-day basis with your customers, are the ones who can make the experience outstanding or can ruin your business. 


Hiring the best people for your team can be challenging, but oftentimes a bigger challenge is deciding if and when to fire an employee that you feel could be toxic to the culture in the long term. We manage things and lead people. Our job as leaders is to guide our employees in their growth, but also to communicate problems right away. If we do not, these people can become your biggest nightmare – and it will be your fault.    We have learned that communication is key, and if you don’t see quick improvements, these toxic people must go! In the short term it will require some damage control; other team members, and especially some clients, will not understand and will blame you for firing someone “without” cause. Do the hard thing and fire the employee and then make it your top priority to communicate openly to the clients and team members.


Word of mouth marketing is a strong tool whether for good or bad. If a customer has an ok experience, they will probably not mention anything to anyone. If a client has an outstanding experience, they may encourage a few of their close friends or family members to join, but if a client has a negative experience, they will tell anyone and everyone! This can make it very tricky when firing an employee who might be toxic to your team, yet the clients have no clue of this fact. It can be just as difficult when the employee is well liked amongst their peers, but threaten the goals and success of the business. In many cases the ones who should go are also those driving the most revenue. It can be a tough call but if you go with your gut and communicate effectively, you will see it will be worth it in the long run. You know your business better than anyone. Do not let your own insecurities get in the way of making the right decisions. Here are three types of people that can be difficult to fire, but will be detrimental to your success.


  1. The Whisperer: This is someone who appears super sweet and kind. He or she might be loved by the clients because they go the extra mile and seem to care. They have seemingly strong people and technical skills, and may be one of the highest yielding producers. Since they are well liked, when they whisper a small grievance here or there, people will listen. This may not be a big deal at first but the negativity will infiltrate the team and you may not even notice until it’s too late. Others may become slightly disgruntled, and slightly less positive or productive. This situation is challenging because it’s like a slow growing cancer. It is hard to pinpoint the exact moment when they became a problem and when they are fired there will be a backlash. However, when you finally make the move, you will be pleasantly surprised when others become more positive without that negative influence. 
  2. The Leveler: This is a person who looks to bring everyone down to their level, never acknowledging growth or encouraging others to do better. They will tease other team members for trying something different or learning something new and will make fun of others behind their backs so no one else will put themselves out there. This may seem like it’s not a big deal, but for a business to grow the team must continue learning; clients/customers must see the value in what they are getting or they will stop coming to you. Also, employee retention is much higher when they are growing personally and professionally. If they are stagnant they will not stick around for long. Once you get rid of the employees who don’t want to learn and who continually bring others down to their level, you will see a big change in the team. Others who may have been intimidated or insecure, or who simply just sat back, will rise to the occasion. They will become more confident, they will feel valued because of the growth and the encouragement,  and you will see new leaders emerge. In the end, the entire team will thrive without that one bad apple keeping them down.
  3. The Deliberate Destroyer: This one might be a little easier to fire because it’s someone who is a little more blatant in their intentions. It’s usually an employee with a lot of experience who is another high producer, and in turn brings in a lot of revenue for the company. They will use this to their advantage because they know that it will hurt the bottom line if they are fired. The Deliberate Destroyer will not follow the rules and will push the envelope with what they can get away with. These are the “my shit doesn’t stink” people who think they know better than you how to run your business – and they will be vocal about it. Not firing them quickly can cause damage to your company culture and cause other team members to lose faith in your abilities as a leader. If they see another employee deliberately doing things that hurt the business but you keep letting them, your credibility will be in the toilet with your team. Firing these types of people, no matter how much money they bring in, will give you instant kudos and will create more loyalty among your employees. They will respect the fact that you did the hard thing to fire that person.


Do your due diligence when hiring to make sure each candidate is a good fit for your team and your business. New hires are usually on their best behavior initially and we all get blinded sometimes. Once the honeymoon period is over, if you start to see negative traits, address your concerns right away. Direct and open communication is a must. That is one of the most important things we have done to create success within our business. If there is an issue, we address it immediately. We don’t let it go because it seems small, and we don’t wait until our next meeting with the team member to discuss it. It’s crucial to nip it in the bud; either the behavior will change or you will know for sure that you have to part ways. Freeing your team of the people who create a toxic environment will allow the others to step up and thrive. Having a company in which team members feel comfortable, valued and encouraged will set up your business for success.