Employee Retention: Questions to Ask Before Firing SomeoneIt’s a situation no business owner concerned about employee retention wants to face.

One of your employees has failed to perform according to your expectations and now it seems you have no choice but to fire him.

Not so fast, says Lisa Girard, a contributor to Entrepreneur. The problem may not be him, but you.

“Every time you are tempted to let someone go, use it as an opportunity to look in the mirror and learn,” Girard says. “You should ask yourself: how did this happen and how can I keep it from happening again?”

Here are questions Girard suggests asking before you pull the “termination trigger”.

Employee Retention: Does The Employee Understand What's Expected?

You think you’ve been crystal clear in setting goals and expectations—but you may be wrong. As executive coach Gary Bradt puts it, “The only way you can be sure an employee knows what you expect is when they clearly state in their own words what your performance expectations for them are, and clearly state how they will be measured.”

Does This Person Have The Right Skills And Tools?

To excel at employee retention, if the employee in question lacks the skills to get the job done, Bradt says, “make sure you provide the right tools and training (soft skills or technical) to perform the tasks as required.” If your budget prohibits this solution, “make sure you do a thorough job up front to match a person’s skills and abilities to the demands of the job.”

Is The Onboarding Process At Fault?

How well do you orient new hires to your organizational culture? Do you help them understand “the way things get done around here” or do you leave them to sink or swim on their own? A great many problems with employee retention can be forestalled if you offer a point-person they can go to with questions, and/or give them the support they need to be successful from day one.

Are My Expectations Unreasonably High?

“Did you hire someone thinking they would be a clone of yourself?” Girard asks. Take a look back at your initial expectations and see if you were just setting yourself up for frustration.

Did I Give The Employee Specific Performance Feedback?

Some bosses aren’t very good at pinpointing areas of improvement for their employees. “However, without appropriate, specific feedback on what is working and what is not, improvement is unlikely.” In order to improve employee retention, your job is to provide the kind of “specific behavior-based feedback” employees need to improve their performance.

Do I Reward The Right Behaviors?

“Some companies say they want teamwork, but they reward individual contributors,” Girard notes. Others espouse a policy of “no internal competition,” then establish reward systems (“like trips and giveaways”) that do precisely that. Says Bradt: “If you are not getting the behavior you want from your employees, challenge your pay and reward system to make sure it is reinforcing the behavior you say you want.”

Am I Too Hands-off With Employees?

Business owners have to find a way to stay in the loop and make themselves available to their staff. At the very least, “be in touch at progress-point intervals” so employees can ask questions and get the support they need to keep a project moving forward. “Without such guidance, the employee may be doomed to fail.” And so will your employee retention strategy.

Before terminating an employee, be sure you’ve done everything you can to help him succeed.