You did it–you fired that problem employee. You cleared it with HR and your employment attorney, ripped off the bandage, and deployed your offboarding plan. The last thing you want to do is sit around thinking about that ex-employee. But if you don’t do this essential part of the process, you risk making the same mistakes time and time again.
As soon as the person is 100% out of the company, call a meeting with the most relevant people, such as the head of HR, their direct supervisor, and the person who recruited them. Then conduct a post-mortem.
Consider both how this ex-employee was a good fit and a bad fit. Review the most important aspects: professional skills, soft skills, personality, team fit, cultural fit, and more. For instance, an employee may have been extremely talented, but had poor soft skills and did not fit in with their peers, which strongly affected morale. Or perhaps the employee was a great fit with their team but had problems with punctuality. Or maybe the employee had a great pedigree but was extremely disorganized and lacked some of the basic skills necessary to perform their job.
Diagnose how the negatives occurred. Was the person properly vetted? How were they found in the first place? Was there a logistical aspect in the person’s life that influenced their ability to do their job well–for example, a bad commute. Could the problem have been avoided through better onboarding and training (before they developed bad habits or a negative attitude)?
Come up with a list of potential warning signs–remember, hindsight is 20/20. Maybe the employee joked about not liking to bill time in the interview, then ended up never actually billing their time! Especially consider their fit with your values: does your culture prioritize multitasking, but this employee couldn’t walk and chew gum? Is one of your values Caring, but the person preferred to keep emotions out of their work life?
Finally, devise strategies to avoid making that mistake again and incorporate them into your operations manual. If a problem was that the executive assistant had horrible grammar, include a proofreading test in the recruitment process. If the employee didn’t come into the office often enough, communicate specific expectations upfront when recruiting their replacement. If their skills were insufficient, rewrite the job description to require more experience.
Good luck healing from the difficult task of termination, and good luck with your next hire.