Employee Termination - Letting Go Whilst Saving the Relationship
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You may be in the position of advising an employee that they
are just not up to the job and that you need to terminate their
employment with your company. If you have not found yourself in this
position yet, don't hold your breath. You many need to terminate an
employee some time in the future.
Your position becomes even more difficult if the employee is a
friend or family member. As you can appreciate, in this situation there
is a long emotional history between the two of you. A termination
strikes to the core of a person's sense of self-worth, and so
discussions need to be handled tactfully and professionally. Here are
some tips and hints for making your job easier and for easing the
burden on the hapless employee.
Under no circumstances should you
terminate the employee "out of the blue", with no warning. The only
exception is in circumstances where the employee has engaged in serious
misconduct, such as stealing from your company or assaulting another
employee. The termination discussion should be the culmination of a
process of alerting the employee of their behavior or performance
shortcomings and setting intermediate goals. It is only when these
goals are not achieved or where progress is minimal that you should
move to the termination phase of the discussion.
Hold the discussions in private,
preferably in a neutral area and well out of earshot of others. Making
the discussion public is most likely to raise an aggressive or
defensive reaction in the employee; or at least more so than what it
would have been otherwise.
Let the person know in advance the time and purpose of the
discussion. Giving them this information up front satisfies the
requirements of procedural fairness and gives the employee the
opportunity to prepare.
If the termination meeting is to proceed relatively
smoothly, there are actions you need to have taken well before the
meeting starts. The steps I have listed below are just such actions,
starting from when you first noticed the sub-par performance or
Set objectively verifiable behavior
or performance goals. Where your goals mention attributes or
competencies, such as "act as a team player" or "demonstrate customer
focus", spell out exactly what those terms mean. And then back up your
progress reports with actual, recorded observations.
During the discussion, do not
"blame" the person by referring to an aberrant personality or bad
motives. Keep the discussion focused on observable behaviors. For
example, do not say, "You do your best to sabotage each team meeting".
Instead, say, "I noticed that you interrupted the person speaking at
least ten times during the course of the meeting."
After giving your feedback, listen
carefully for the person's feelings. Acknowledge and respect how they
feel about the feedback that you have just given. Ignoring or
minimizing their feelings will make it less likely that they will
acknowledge your point of view.
Let the employee know your
company's escalation process. The process should start with informal
feedback, progressing to formal warnings and finalizing in eventual
termination. If your company does not have an escalation process, get
one. Having and adhering to such a process keeps the termination steps
"transparent" and is integral to procedural fairness.
By adhering to the above tips, you may just avoid having to
terminate a below-par employee and may end up with an exceptional
performer. If you do need to terminate the employee at the end of the
process, you will at least have helped the person move on and you will
feel better about yourself.
Copyright © Leslie Allan
About the Author
Leslie Allan is Managing Director of
Business Performance Pty Ltd; a management consulting firm specializing
in people and process capability. He has been assisting organizations
for over 20 years, contributing in various roles as project manager,
consultant and trainer for organizations large and small. Mr. Allan is
a prolific writer on business issues, with many journal and web
articles to his credit. He is also the author of five books on employee
capability, training and change management. His company's web site is a
rich source of information, advice and tools in a variety of business
and management areas. Visit Mr. Allan's Business Performance
web site to download trial versions of products, free
templates and introductory chapters. Authors Google+
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2013-07-18 09:08:09 in Employee Articles