For the Small Business Owner – When you Have an Employee Issue / by, Alan Bernstein, HR Office Savers

by, Alan Bernstein, President HR Office Savers


If you are a manager of people, you will inevitably be faced with the hard decision of what to do when it is not working out with an employee.

Most times this is a communication problem, easily solved with mediation or active listening. But in those cases where the relationship is simply too frustrating to continue, think of “ART” to try and manage the result.

Assume Good Intent

Sometimes the problem is you are so frustrated with the employee that you are not able to see past the employee’s mistakes.

I encourage you to take a breath and recalibrate. Try to remember the reasons you hired this employee in the first place. Look for the good. Reground yourself and your thinking.

This will allow you to more objectively determine how to approach the next steps.


In some cases, the employee is not really a bad employee. They try hard but they are not a good fit for the position.

If possible, move the employee to another role and replace them with someone more suited to the job. You will have to decide if you have another position available that this employee could perform.

It can be helpful to ask yourself if you are better off with them or without them. That can help you decide the best move.


When there are no other options, or the employee has committed an act that demands immediate action, it may be time to terminate their employment. This will be a short-term burden to you while you find someone new, but most likely the best move for the business.

Pro-tip: Like other employee actions, document your discussions and decisions. There is no such thing as a risk-free termination, and you will want notes to reference in case there is a claim later.

In Conclusion

It is usually easier to keep and coach a current employee than hire and train a new employee. However, you should not have to live with poor performance and bad behavior.

Alan is the owner of HR Office Savers, Inc., an independent human resource consulting firm that supports small local businesses and individuals with their human resource needs, including staffing, compliance, and job search. Prior to launching his business, Alan held a series of Human Resource positions of increased responsibility at Harris Corporation, Honeywell International, GTSI Corp, and Verizon Wireless.  Alan holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from The University of Buffalo, is Six Sigma Green Belt Certified, and is a Senior Certified Professional with the Society of Human Resource Management.

HR Office Savers offers a full range of human resource support options, from employee relations to termination, including performance improvement plans and progressive discipline policies. Contact us today at
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