On today’s episode we discuss a particularly thorny subject: the correct process for firing an underperforming security guard. The security guard industry is known for its high turnover, with rates sometimes above 100%, so a proper firing process is something every company needs to have.
Lay The Groundwork
Any adequate firing process has to start with clearly establishing a dip in performance, since you don’t want to be firing guards for no reason. Just as it’s cheaper to retain an existing customer than acquire a new one, it’s also a lot cheaper to hold on to existing employees.
“From a cost perspective, it’s very expensive to bring someone on,” I tell Chris. “The firing process and the hiring process isn’t a cheap one in the security industry.”
Determining whether or not a guard needs to be fired starts with establishing clear expectations during training. Let them know how they’re supposed to perform in their job, and that makes it easy to know when they’re not upholding the standards they need to stay in their position.
This should be a continual process, not just a one-time thing. Establish the expectations during training, and then consistently review and revise them and let the guard know how they’re doing. Done right, this is a collaborative process that is beneficial for both sides. Sometimes, though, employees won’t collaborate, won’t change their behavior, and will continue to fall short of the standards your company sets.
Document The Process
“When an employee does fail to meet those expectations, that failure needs to be tracked, documented, and discussed before there’s any discussion of… being fired,” I tell Chris.
The goal should be to fire as few guards as possible. Correct shortcomings where possible, and clearly record the failures of employees when they refuse to improve so that you can make an informed decision and protect yourself from liability in the future.
Firing an employee can be an emotional process, and when emotions get involved it becomes a lot easier to make bad decisions. Strict documentation of the employee’s shortcomings and the conversations in the process help keep everything on a rational, factual basis.
It also helps on the front end with the issue of establishing clear expectations. It’s one thing to tell a guard what they’re expected to do, but it’s another to actually give them the training and tools to go out and meet those expectations. Clearly documented processes for training and regular on-site tasks ensure that guards have no excuse if they fail to carry out their responsibilities.
Using a tool like Silvertrac can help you manage and document your training, supervisors, and guards.
Keep It Professional
It’s common for managers to develop personal relationships with employees, especially in small companies. However, it’s important to make sure that the firing conversation remains strictly professional, with personal relationships not getting involved.
By having the clear documentation of the efforts made to fix the employee’s errors, you can show them that the firing is not your choice, but a necessity brought about by their inability to perform to the necessary standards. Don’t get drawn into an argument, just firmly and politely let them know that this is the final decision. Make an effort to end the professional relationship on good terms.
“Make it a pleasant goodbye call,” says Chris. “If you don’t, and you do make it emotional, you can really get into missing equipment.”
Potentially losing equipment is just one of the many costs that businesses face when firing employees. Retaining employees is always the best outcome, but when someone absolutely has to be fired, a well-documented, professional process makes everything smoother.