Has A Startup Employee Made This Mistake? They Should Probably Be Fired

As a startup company, your initial batch of employees shape the company. You depend on these team members to help take the company where it wants to be by hitting goals and milestones. Working for a startup is unlike working for a corporation: startups are run under a different set of rules, tend to value independent thinking and creativity, and require a genuine interest in the company growth.

To be successful, startup founders need to approach hiring with a “hire slow, fire fast” attitude. And while some mistakes are forgivable and could happen to anyone, there are others that require immediate attention and removal of the employee. Firing a team member is never easy, but it will help your business grow in the long-run.

The Fatal IT Mistake

Every aspect of the startup business is important, but in the world of information technology, there’s little room for error. Whether you employ an in-house team for IT services or outsource to a third-party firm, there are some mistakes that are unforgivable. One such mistake is forgetting to generate backups.

Such is the case for one Los Angeles-based clothing manufacturer, whose ERP software had been completely wiped out by a disgruntled contractor seeking revenge. The in-house IT employee who was responsible for backups daily, hadn’t done a backup in over a year, costing the company six months of manual data input from paper records and $2 million. Data backups and protection are among the most important aspects of running a business, and should be approached with a no-hold-barred attitude.

The Customer Service Dilemma

How your business handles customer service requests is critical. One mistake can leave a bad impression and cause damages that are hard to repair. This is especially true in today’s social sharing economy, where bad experiences turn into long-lasting negative reviews.

Statistics have shown that a whopping 88% of customers trust online reviews just as much a word-of-mouth recommendations, and many consumers will look at several reviews before making a purchasing decision. In fact, only 14% of consumers would even consider buying from a business with one or two-star reviews. Your employees create the experiences that those reviews are based upon, which is why you can’t afford to continue to let them work at the company if they are unable to resolve issues in a respectable manner.

There are countless customer service horror stories, like the time Esperanze Martinez received a letter from Time Warner that hadchanged her first name to “Cunt”, or the New York Hotel that dismissed negative reviews by calling them “mean-spirited nonsense” and threatening to charge for negative reviews.

To avoid a PR nightmare and a loss of future customers, it’s important to emphasize how serious you take the positive treatment of your customers. Customer training programs have huge advantages, set the tone for the future of the company, and encourage good customer-employee interactions.

The Social Screwup

Whether you’re a startup or big corporation, your product and/or services are always under scrutiny. Any mistakes in the marketing objectives could thwart the general perception of your company, resulting in a huge financial hit.

One badly timed, ill-thought social media post could an employee their job, and there are plenty of stories detailing the unfortunate demise of team members whose screw-ups sent them packing. The tricky part of social media is that it’s so ingrained in our lives, many employees who handle social accounts find it difficult to separate their personal thought processes from work.

Personal tweets are also representative of the company. For example, IAC’s senior director of corporate communications, Justine Sacco, made a personal tweet on her way to Cape Town, South Africa in 2013 that cost her her career: “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” At the time, Sacco only had 130 followers, but the comment led to a trending hashtag and her immediate removal. Needless to say, racial comments are non-negotiable.

Another reason for an immediate firing is the release of confidential company information, whether intentional or unintentional. For example, if your startup hasn’t formally announced a merge and an employee accidentally drops too big a hint or reveals it entirely, it could pose a huge risk to the deal. Your competition could step in and make a better offer, or the acquirer could consider the business unstable.

Lastly, there are those who publicly complain about their company on social media, like Talia Jane, whose public letter to Yelp regarding low wages got her canned, or the recent grad who got fired after publicly expressing his dislike of being an employee at Cisco.

There are several ways to prevent employees from social screwups, like putting your policies in writing or training employees on social media ethics on a consistent basis.