Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

Advisor Perspectives welcomes guest contributions. The views presented here do not necessarily represent those of Advisor Perspectives.

Dear Bev,

A team member has been a support function working for our senior advisors for almost five years. She has a nasty streak and advisors are afraid of her – they will hesitate to ask her when a client needs something or to follow up when she has committed to get something for a client.

I’ve wanted to fire her for some time but she is an older woman and I have been afraid of legal ramifications. Our revenues, like many advisory firms, are off a bit. We’re certainly not in any trouble, but I could justify a layoff if I wanted to.

Is this the best approach? Will I send a bad message and scare others in the firm if I were to eliminate her role? I don’t want to create an opportunity out of a crisis. But in some ways the crisis presents an opportunity to rethink our business and get rid of a long-standing problem. Please do not use my real initials as I believe team members would know who we are by the elements I have included here.

A.A.

Dear A.A.,

Do you think if you fire this person now you will avoid any potential fallout that might arise? Is it easier for you to do this virtually rather than face-to-face when in the office with her? Is it easier because other employees are not in the office, so the pain won’t be felt as acutely? Do you think this employee is less likely to engage in a lawsuit or make trouble for you under these circumstances? Is she the most junior person tenure-wise and/or can you justify why she would be singled out over others?

Consider those questions because you might be under-estimating the ease of doing this now versus when you return to the office and can have a conversation. I totally understand the desire to tie this (legitimately) to decreased revenue, but don’t overlook the whys and wherefores about what you are doing.