Though terminations can be challenging, it is so much easier to fire a consistently poor performer than someone who is just a bad employee. Negative nellies, glory hounds and wimpy managers may not do anything wrong enough to have a bad performance review, so they end up staying around a lot longer than they should.
In those cases, sometimes it is easier to avoid hiring these difficult-to-fire employees than it is to try to fire them.
1. Negative nellies
One toxic employee can have an amazingly negative impact on a company. Her team is directly impacted, which in turn can affect the whole organization. Fortunately, toxic employees are not usually spontaneously created; they often have those personality traits already. During the interview, ask the candidate to describe the type of work environment in which she thrives and to give an example. Then, ask her to describe the type of environment in which she feels stifled or less productive and to give an example. In both cases, ask for descriptions of her manager or teammate’s style and examples of what it was she did or did not like.
Has she ever worked in a job in which she did thrive? Is it difficult for her to describe the ideal work environment? Or does she describe an unrealistic environment? Listen carefully for how her answers to questions like this compare to the environment in your office.
2. Glory hounds
Employees who take credit for successes and good ideas, whether it is deserved or not, are also a drain on the work environment. Like toxic employees, the manager often hesitates to fire glory hounds because it seems like they have done nothing wrong. And if the glory hound does deserve credit, even 1 out of 10 times, it becomes all the more challenging to fire him.
Again, few of these credit grabbers develop that skill in the moment. To avoid hiring a glory hound, listen for the overuse of I and me instead of we or the team when discussing successes.
Further, ask the candidate to explain a process you know well and pay attention to whether he exaggerates the difficulty of or complicates the explanation of the process. As noted in this Inc.com article, glory hounds tend to think quite highly of themselves and go through extra effort to make themselves look smart.
3. Wimpy managers
The manager who allows negative nellies and glory hounds to blossom on her team is also difficult to fire, especially if performance metrics are met. Yet the toxic environment her team members create would be alleviated if she were decisive enough to manage their behaviors.
When interviewing a manager or supervisor, ask if she has ever fired someone. If she has, ask for the steps that led up to the termination and how she handled the final meeting. If she has not, role play a difficult conversation during the interview to see how she handles it. Being uncomfortable is common, but avoiding the situation or handing it off to someone else are signs that she may not be able to handle managing challenging behaviors.
The bottom line: Terminations are difficult. Why not try an ounce of prevention and look specifically for the warning signs that indicate the type of behaviors that will negatively impact the office environment during the interview?