What To Do When an Employee Is Disrespectful: Can You Fire Them?

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Do you have a disrespectful employee at work? Are you wondering how to manage them and whether you can fire them for their behavior?

In this episode, we will discuss the importance of personality fit in the hiring process and explore ways to handle disrespectful behavior from an employee.

You cannot just fire an employee for being disrespectful. Disciplinary action must be taken, and there must be a process. This episode will examine how to deal with an employee who doesn’t respect you and will guide you on how to approach a disrespectful employee professionally.

We will also explore how to identify why an employee's behavior and performance suddenly changed, how to ensure effective communication with the employee, and how to handle disrespectful behavior from an employee who dislikes their job.

By the end of this episode, you will have a better understanding of the disciplinary action for a disrespectful employee and how to manage them professionally.

If you want to learn more about managing employees who don't respect you, watch this episode!

Listen to the Episode

Read the Full Transcript

So you're the boss, right? Can you fire an employee because they disrespected you?

Welcome to the Build Your Team show, guys! And that's today's topic. You know, it's a big topic because respect in the workplaces is really important. And it's also a very subjective topic because what's respect to you may be disrespectful to me and vice versa, right? But if you are the boss, there is a certain level of decorum and respect that I'm sure that you expect because you are the boss. 

And what happens when someone crosses that line? What happens when they are just flat out disrespectful to you, to your face? How do you deal with it? Can you just say, "You know what? You're disrespectful!", and just fire them? Well, no you can't. Unfortunately, you can't just fire someone because they're disrespectful.

I wish you could. Let me just be honest, but you can't. There must be process, okay? There must be process. But before we get to the process side of this, let's go back and revisit history because someone didn't just become disrespectful. There's always a process, okay? And so let's go back to the beginning.

And in the beginning, you have to ask yourself because you probably are the one who hired this person, or someone on your team is the person who hired this person. What's going on in your hiring process that maybe you missed that this was a personality trait of this individual? Maybe there are questions that you should be asking upfront that may help you understand the type of individual that you're about to hire.

And if you've been around and you've been listening to any of these shows that I've been doing, you know that I say it very often. Especially when you're a small company, the first thing when you're hiring is you want to hire for fit. Personality fit. Not "can they do the work". That's secondary to the personality fit because in a small company, personality clash is absolutely detrimental to the work getting done. And it really doesn't matter how good the people are who are doing the work if their personalities are constantly clashing and there are constant issues. 

So number 1, let's go back and figure out, did you hire for fit? If you can say no, then that's where you start in solving this problem in the future. If you can say yes, and then you can also realistically and honestly say that this person started and things were good. They fit and this is not, this is different or new, or it's been the last few months, but we had years or months of really great. Then you have to ask yourself this question, what has changed for them? Something has changed and sometimes it doesn't have anything to do with you. And so the first thing that you have to do in this circumstance is when you're dealing with a disrespectful employee, you cannot return fire with fire.

You cannot be disrespectful back. Keep your professionalism. Keep your head cool. I get it. You're the boss. And there are moments in times where you feel like you don't deserve this! But guess what? You're the boss and therefore, you've got to keep your cool in dealing with this situation. And in dealing with this situation, if this is something that has changed over time, then it's time to start having conversations with that employee and saying, "Hey, what's going on?".

And maybe, maybe it's something outside of work that they don't want to share with you. Or maybe it's something that they do want to share with you. Or maybe it's something inside, or maybe it's a new employee that's annoying them, and they actually are lashing out at you at it. Who knows? The place, the point though, excuse me, is you have to give that employee the space and freedom to communicate openly and effectively with you. And you have to realize that if that's not something that you've asked them to do previously, that just because they were disrespectful, and now you come and ask them to be open, doesn't mean that they're going to do it on the first time. Matter of fact, it almost guarantees that they won't do it on the first time.

And so you may have to be even more patient. And deal, and ask, and to try to figure out what's really going on. Because here's the key, guys. You can come and you can do what a lot of people will tell you. And a lot of people will tell you, "Well, you've got to lay down the law, and you've got to put process in place, and you all have to follow your disciplinary code!", and all that type of stuff. And yeah, all that's great and stuff. But the reality is we're all humans too, and we're all dealing with stuff too. 

And so it's important for you to have grace in this moment upfront. I'm not saying forever. I am saying upfront to try to determine what actually is going on. What's the root cause of our issues?

And once you determine the root cause of the issues, then you can determine whether or not this is something I want to solve or not, okay? If they are being disrespectful to you because they no longer like their job, well guess what? It's your job and you chose it and you're here. And so if it's becoming too much of a problem, maybe it's time for you to leave and you can leave.

Nope. You still can't just fire them because they said that. But they can leave. And what you can do is then put in place process. Put in place process to, if you don't have it already, to one, either evaluate their performance so that if their performance is slipping and their attitude is bad, now you have grounds for dismissal.

Now you have grounds for dismissal. Likewise, you can put in a disciplinary process. You can talk to them and say, "Okay listen, I hear that's what's going on with you. And I'm sorry that you're going through that, but you know, the way you've been can't. We can't have that in the workplace. It's not productive. It's not helpful, okay? And it's disrespectful. And are you willing to change and be different?". And they may say, "Yeah. Oh yeah, I'm so sorry!". And they may plead and cry and whatever else that people do. 

And in that moment, you can accept their apology. And I strongly suggest you accept their apology by ensuring that you set up again, process. Process of "this is our disciplinary process".

"So I know this is where you are. And then this is what has happened and I'm sorry that this happened. But this has also activated our disciplinary process that says that, in these times where these are the actions that are being taken by my employee, you that are disrespectful, this is the process we will go through to help you remedy that. So we've had a conversation about it. Maybe you'll get a warning. Maybe we'll have another conversation and you'll get a second warning. And if it continues after that, then, then my friends, is grounds for dismissal". That's when you can fire them. But you have to take them through that process because unfortunately, if you don't, then they can say that you discriminated against them, which you don't want to be in the middle of that at all, okay? 

So you want to make sure that you set up great process there. But now going all the way back to where we started, this all starts with making sure that you hire the right people. That you hire for fit and not for skill first. It's important that they can do their job, yes. But if they don't fit you and the culture of your organization, don't hire them. It doesn't matter how good they are at the job. It will only end badly for you. Don't hire them. 

All right, everybody. I hope this was helpful. I'm sure that this led to a ton of conversations. So if you're on in podcast link, come find the YouTube channel: Build Your Team. And leave your questions for me. If you're on YouTube, drop your questions down below.

Let's talk about this cause I know this is a lot. I know this is a tough one. I know a lot of us deal with it. I've dealt with it a ton in my career and it's not an easy thing. So let's talk about it. Let's support each other and let's help you get through it. 

All right, everybody. Talk to you later. Bye-bye!

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