I’ve always believed that my business’s success hinges on the open and honest relationship I have with my team. I have to trust that my employees will do the job they were hired to do so I can focus on running and growing the company. However, I have unfortunately had to deal with members of my team breaking that trust in the past. And, while you should always consider giving people a second chance at the workplace, second chances also mean you should look at what they did, and determine whether what happened was a minor transgression, or a serious breach of trust.
Look at the big picture
It can be really easy to focus too heavily on the employee when making this sort of decision, but you need to consider a lot of different factors. Firing someone can leave a long-lasting impact on your business, especially if other employees don’t agree with your decision. Was this betrayal of trust more personal, or professional? Occasionally we have to swallow our personal pride for the betterment of the company, and objectivity is key to making this sort of a decision. If this is an isolated incident, then maybe a second chance is in order.
Consider the impact on your business
If this employee has proven themselves to the company and has spent years working within it, firing them could hurt your business. So you need to ask yourself if the employee’s separation will actually be good for the company. Do they contribute to inter-office harmony? Are they replaceable? Will their absence help or hinder day to day operations? Being slighted by someone you trust is always a jarring experience, but it isn’t worth sacrificing your team’s dynamic to make a point. But if this employee did actually harm the company, it may be worth sending them out the door for good.
Deal with Legalities and Customers
There are legal implications whenever you consider letting someone go. Do they have knowledge of trade secrets? Do you think they may run to your competitor? If you’ve decided to fire an employee, you have to dot all your i’s and cross all your t’s. Remind them of the implications of any non-disclosure agreements they’ve signed, and make sure to check with your state and local laws to make sure you aren’t violating the law by firing them for a breach of trust. Certain states have strict laws as to the reasons an employee can and cannot be fired, so make sure you hold onto any evidence that will back up your arguments for termination, just in case. You will also need to step in and take care of any customers that may be caught in a lurch post-elimination. The last thing you want is to lose all of your ex-employee’s customers along with your employee.
My best advice when considering whether or not to give an employee a second chance is to sit down with them in your office, present your evidence, and ask them to explain. When you have all of the facts and details, weigh them carefully in your mind along with any logistical implications the termination could bring. Remember, giving someone a second chance isn’t a sign of weakness – it’s a sign of mercy. If you feel like they are truly repentant, then give them the opportunity to prove themselves.