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3 Questions to Answer Before Firing an Underperforming Employee

Use these guidelines to either help an underperforming employee or know that it’s time to move on.

March 31, 2021
Talking to an underperforming team member

Have you ever had a challenge with a team member being disruptive? Have you been frustrated with people’s missteps? Have you felt disappointed with a team member not meeting basic expectations?

If the answer isn’t “yes” to all of these questions, then you’re either lying or not in the remodeling business.

As an advisor to many remodeling companies, I hear a lot of frustrations about team members. In response, I encourage my clients to ask three questions to either fix the situation or move on and exit the relationship. 

Can This Team Member Do the Job?

This first question to ask yourself is about competency— the fundamental sticks and bricks knowledge. Are they competent communicators? Are their technology skills strong enough? Are they strategic thinkers? 

If you find they are falling short in any area of competency, then helping and coaching this team member is a good investment. Be sure to be clear on what you expect from them and when you would like to see improvement. 

Will This Team Member Do the Job? 

This second question looks at attitude and work ethic. A bad attitude is like cancer for a team. However, a bad attitude can sometimes be changed. Many people don’t realize how others perceive them and will respond well to an honest conversation about what you and others are seeing. This is critical for improvement. 

Most businesses have a certain expectation of work ethic, and if the work ethic is different between team members, it generally creates frustration that can cause problems. Before a person is hired, you should discuss work ethic. I often ask about previous job experiences to try to flush out bandwidth and willingness to work hard.

Unlike the first question, this is something that can be fixed quickly but often you might need to just move on.

Does this Team Member Fit Your Culture?

Your company’s culture is a product of who you are and how the business has evolved. Your business model might be shoot-from-the-hip or more rigid and process driven. It could be a family culture or a business dynamic; a fast-paced, growth-oriented feel or a slower status quo. In my work, I see many different cultures and sometimes a team member just doesn’t fit. 

It’s important that you discuss this topic in the hiring process. Ask about previous experiences and have them describe the cultures that fit them. This also may be the reason they are leaving a current job, so making sure there is a fit is especially important.

Incorporate these three questions into your recruiting, hiring, and on-boarding to create a strong staff. If you keep it up with ongoing development, you will avoid many common potholes and keep your team great.  

About the Author

About the Author

Mark Richardson, CR, is an author, columnist, and business growth strategist. He authored the best-selling book, How Fit Is Your Business? as well as his latest book, Fit to Grow. He can be reached at sends e-mail) or 301.275.0208.



I will first look into the leader (trainer) that provides the instructions to his/her team members. If the instructions are not cleared & (s)he does not provide enough info. & be available to answer questions, then I would train the trainer(s) first prior letting go my guys. Remember the leader always has more knowledge/experience than his/her followers. (That's why (s)he leads the team). Also, explain the issue(s) that does not work out so they can understand & learn from it. (Don't just say "it doesn't work out. What does not work out?). If they are willing, able, & ready, then give them changes & time to learn & build up the experience. Some are fast learning. Others are not. We all need to start at somewhere. Ask yourself these questions. How do I get to be a leader today? Who give me the chances & teach/coach me when I first begin working at the entry level w/o any experience?

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