Dealing With Employee Terminations
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In a recent workshop I conducted on "The Art of Dealing with Difficult
People", we spent some time discussing terminations. If you've ever had to
terminate someone, you know how difficult and stressful this can be. (Donald
Trump excluded!) Over the years, I've developed a leadership philosophy that has
enabled me to let someone go in a way that not only is more comfortable, but
creates an opportunity for me to develop them and their future.
I believe that most people set out to do a good job. They have the intention
of doing well and making a contribution. Therefore, when their quality of work
is poor even after I've worked with them, trained them, and provided them with
the proper tools, I know something is wrong. Here's the truth of the matter:
Generally, the poor quality of work is a SYMPTOM rather than a PROBLEM! What is
it a symptom of? Well, it could be caused by one or more problems. Most often,
I've found that the core problem is that they are in a role that doesn't match
their natural skills very well. They are in a job which requires a certain set
of skills and their strengths lie in other directions. Imagine having a creative
person in an accounting role, or a people person working in a private office
without the ability to interact with others. They would surely become unhappy,
their energy level and attitude would diminish, their focus would be lost, and
the quality of their work would suffer. It's only natural. I have often found
that by observing someone's natural strengths and comparing them to the skills
their job requires, a mismatch exists.
How does this happen? Aren't people aware of their strengths? No. Often they
are not. Or they think they should be able to do other things. Or they think
something is wrong with them. Or they are simply unhappy in their life and don't
know why. Think of how most people end up (especially early in our careers) in
the jobs they have or the fields they have chosen. Typically, coming out of high
school, we pick college subjects that we're good at, or we simply take a job
because someone offered one to us. There are a couple of consequences to these
actions. People end up in a field that they're good at but don't enjoy. (Just
because we're good at something doesn't mean we enjoy it.) Or, they end up in a
field because they've been buffeted about by life, not because they actually
sought an occupation out. It's very, very common to find people in the wrong
kind of job for their natural skill set.
Where is all this leading? One of the most important responsibilities a
leader has is to develop others. Somehow, many leaders lose sight of this
important role and miss the opportunity. What happens then is that they turn to
"discipline" rather than development". The truth is that, especially with
adults, discipline accomplishes nothing. Most often it either causes someone to
become passive-aggressive or it causes them to leave. Neither result helps them,
and sometimes a disciplinary course of action can backfire and cause you or your
company further problems.
My solution to this is to use a more developmental approach. By keeping in
mind that poor work is a symptom and one that is often caused by a mismatch of
skills, I simply state the obvious. I'll bring someone into my office and make
this observation. I'll say, "You can't be happy here." Their reaction is pretty
consistent. At first, they're in shock from a statement like that. Once the
shock wears off, they pretty much agree. They'll open up and admit that they ARE
unhappy. Then I'll explain what I've observed. I'll highlight their best traits
and skills, and point out how their present role doesn't make use of them. It's
amazing how they'll light up by having someone note their good qualities. I'll
help them see that their present job requires different skills.
I'll follow that up by offering some examples of jobs that would better suit
their natural skills. Know what happens? They'll get this glint of excitement in
their eyes and they'll agree with you. I help them see a better, happier future.
I'll offer to help them update their resume and help them research companies who
could use someone with their skills.
Know what happens next? They thank me.
You don't have to take my word about this. I've spoken with a number of
leaders who have used this approach, and they relate the same results. I've even
heard of former employees who sought out their former manager up to a year later
to thank them for pointing them in the right direction.
By the way, make sure you set a time table for the departure of your
employee. Allowing someone to linger who is unhappy and who produces poor work
will continue to be detrimental. Also, please check with your HR department or
HR attorney to ensure compliance with company and government regulations
Remember, ... Leaders Develop Others.
© 2008 Exceptional Leadership, Inc.
About the Author
by Michael Beck, an Executive Coach and Strategist specializing in
employee engagement, executive development, and leadership
effectiveness. Connect on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/mjbeck
and visit www.michaeljbeck.com
to learn more.
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2008-12-29 01:40:55 in Employee Articles