How do you know when to let a new employee go?

Updated | Posted
by tippeny tippeny Member

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I am relatively new to the management side of things. I have a new(er) employee who is still in a probationary period and they are just not picking things up very quickly. We are in a clinic setting and this nurse has been here for over 5 months and has been working with one provider for well over 6 weeks. Their documentation is full of errors every day, to the point where I look over every thing they document on every patient, every day, every time, to make sure there are no errors. And there always are! They have trained with 4 different, experienced, nurses and have access to many different resources. The rest of the nurses in the clinic are also aware of the errors, as they bring them to me constantly, so this is affecting morale as well. 

How do you know when to let someone go? I have never had to "fire" someone before, so of course I'm not comfortable with the idea. But at this point, I feel this nurse should be able to work independently and not need to be babysat every day. (nurse is an RN, btw)

SummerGarden

SummerGarden, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in ED, ICU, MS/MT, PCU, CM, House Sup, Frontline mgr. Has 14 years experience. 3,370 Posts

17 minutes ago, tippeny said:

I am relatively new to the management side of things. I have a new(er) employee who is still in a probationary period and they are just not picking things up very quickly. We are in a clinic setting and this nurse has been here for over 5 months and has been working with one provider for well over 6 weeks. Their documentation is full of errors every day, to the point where I look over every thing they document on every patient, every day, every time, to make sure there are no errors. And there always are! They have trained with 4 different, experienced, nurses and have access to many different resources. The rest of the nurses in the clinic are also aware of the errors, as they bring them to me constantly, so this is affecting morale as well. 

 

How do you know when to let someone go? 

All the highlighted black-bold are the answers to your question.  1.) He/she/they are in the probationary period, so either you or the employee can part ways for any given reason. 2.) He/she/they are not meeting expectations despite being provided the expectations and resources needed to be supported.

Edited by SummerGarden

Kitiger, RN

Specializes in Private Duty Pediatrics. Has 43 years experience. 1,722 Posts

It sounds to me like your problem isn't whether to let this employee go, it's how do I do this thing that makes me so uncomfortable.

klone, MSN, RN

Specializes in OB-Gyn/Primary Care/Ambulatory Leadership. Has 16 years experience. 14,299 Posts

Based on what you wrote, it's time to let them go. Sorry. I say this as someone who also works in leadership in a clinic setting right now, and had to do the same thing with a nurse in her probationary period just a few months ago. 

It's a really *** part of the job, but it's an essential one.

amoLucia

amoLucia

Specializes in retired LTC. 7,735 Posts

I'm assuming there have been intermittent counseling meetings with the approp 'paper trail'. If all is well documented with goals NOT being met, then let her go.

Include HR in the termination process so that there's no poss discrepancies to come & bite you later.

klone, MSN, RN

Specializes in OB-Gyn/Primary Care/Ambulatory Leadership. Has 16 years experience. 14,299 Posts

On 5/25/2021 at 6:45 PM, amoLucia said:

Include HR in the termination process so that there's no poss discrepancies to come & bite you later.

Oh, THIS!! One thing I've learned, NEVER EVER EVER terminate an employee without a leadership colleague or HR witness present. You would not believe the lies a person will make up about what took place in the termination meeting.

guest358111

guest358111

12 Articles; 123 Posts

Never an easy situation. Is 5 months time a normal probationary period for your clinic? That seems extensive. If you haven’t already you should be speaking with HR about how to best proceed. Ideally you should have met with the new employee and discussed expectations and why perhaps these errors are occurring. If there is a fixable underlying cause, then that needs to be addressed and worked on. You may need to give a written warning asking that improvement starts to happen or termination will take place. I would not suggest having these conversations alone. The situation might take care of itself after a few well thought out conversations. Discussing how these documentation errors impact patient safety is generally an appropriate route. There are three options generally:  1. They will improve 2. They will not improve and realize they need to resign. Or 3. They will not improve  and you will need to ask them to resign/ terminate their employment.  
 Best wishes for the conversations!

tippeny

tippeny

114 Posts

Thank you for all of the comments. They really are helpful.  I have engaged senior leadership as well as HR, so everyone is aware. I have had a sit down with the employee to let them know of the deficiencies and have a written record of the conversation. I have basically been told by HR that I can terminate if I want and to let them know so they can be of assistance. 

I suppose what is holding me back is the fact that it took a while to hire the employee in the first place and it will leave our unit back at being short staffed. I have been working full time clinically and trying to squeeze a myriad of managing duties into the cracks. Having this RN on board will (eventually) lighten my load. I work in a government facility, so hiring people is a painfully slow process- it can take over 6 months sometimes from when the job is first posted. I keep trying to rationalize why I should keep her: she is doing some things well (after many weeks); she is actually trying to improve; maybe she has a learning disability (ADHD?); we need the staff.... 

Thank you for letting me vent and think out loud a bit!

ProfRN15

ProfRN15

6 Posts

As hard as it is to let this person go, please do it for the sake of the other hard-working nurses who would suffer needlessly with this nurse's incompetence. You are doing your unit a favor and ultimately, this nurse as well who needs to consider a different setting. Best of luck to you!

Orca, ADN, ASN, RN

Specializes in Hospice, corrections, psychiatry, rehab, LTC. Has 27 years experience. 2,066 Posts

It's time to cut your losses. Five months is more than enough to pick up the routine in most places. You have used four different trainers, so I gather that this is an ability problem rather than a training problem. You won't fix that no matter how many different trainers that you use or for how long, and issuing written reprimands commanding someone to do something that they are clearly not capable of grasping won't save the situation. As a manager, I had much rather salvage an employee than replace one, but I also concede that there are times when no matter of effort will accomplish that. You could invest the energy that you are currently expending trying to prop up a lost cause in locating and orienting someone far better suited to your operation.

MHDNURSE

MHDNURSE

Specializes in Pediatrics, Community Health, School Health. Has 26 years experience. 701 Posts

On 5/25/2021 at 6:45 PM, amoLucia said:

I'm assuming there have been intermittent counseling meetings with the approp 'paper trail'. If all is well documented with goals NOT being met, then let her go.

THIS x 100000000

As a former nurse manager, you have to absolutely make sure you have documentation of every single time to sat this employee down and spoke to them.  I always had my employee sign the document that we spoke and they were counseled.  It ended up being critical when an employee was terminated and applied for unemployment and was denied and we were called into court to defend "wrongful termination" after the employee said no one told her she was not performing up to standards.