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.
- Negative nellies
One toxic employee can have an amazingly negative impact on a company. The 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 they thrive and to give an example. Then, ask for a description of the type of environment that is stifling to production and to give an example. In both cases, ask for descriptions of the manager or teammate’s style with examples.
What was a job in which they did thrive? Is it difficult to describe the ideal work environment? Do they describe an unrealistic environment? Listen carefully for how the answers may relate to your own office.
- 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.
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 they exaggerate the difficulty 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.
- Wimpy managers
The manager who allows negative nellies and glory hounds to blossom on their team is also difficult to fire, especially if performance metrics are met. Yet the toxic environment team members create would be alleviated if the manager was more decisive.
When interviewing a manager or supervisor, ask if they’ve ever fired someone. If so, ask for the steps that led up to the termination and how the final meeting was handled. If not, role play a difficult conversation during the interview to see how it’s handled. Being uncomfortable is common, but avoiding the situation or handing it off to someone else are signs they 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?