Terminations initiated by the employer, also known as involuntary terminations, are not nearly as easy as Donald Trump makes them look on The Apprentice. In fact, involuntary terminations are oftentimes considered one of the most stressful acts that occur in the workplace. The idea of terminating can be so stressful that some managers will turn a blind eye to certain sub-par performers rather than confront them with such a definitive action.
Like it or not, terminations are a part of running a business: and a costly part, at that. Studies show the cost to replace an employee can range from 50 - 150% of the employee’s annual salary, if not more. Further, involuntary terminations represent not only a failure on the employee’s part due to their inability to perform the job satisfactorily, but also a failure on the employer’s part due to a potential breakdown in the hiring process or ineffective management of the lacking employee.
Here are 8 win strategies to try before saying, “You’re Fired!”
1. Use accurate and up to date job descriptions. Having clearly defined job duties helps an employee understand what is expected of him/her even before they are hired. Job descriptions also provide documentation to support the reason for disciplinary action when an employee is performing at a level that is below what is specified for that job.
2. Start with a good hire. When hiring, consider including testing, eg. Aptitude, Attitude, Skills, or Leadership Ability, to ensure the candidate(s) are both capable and a good cultural fit.
3. Confront poor performance head on. While having those uncomfortable conversations is never pleasant, it is important that the employee knows when they are not performing to par. Oftentimes a simple conversation to inform the employee they are not meeting expectations will result in an increased level of performance. If the performance does not improve, follow up with written warnings. Be specific in your expectations and the timeframe allotted for improvement. If, after a specified time, there is still no change in the level of performance, you will have solid documentation to support the decision to terminate.
4. Be consistent. It is important to be fair and consistent with the way you treat employees. If you have a human resources department, talk with someone in human resources to determine appropriate recourse before taking disciplinary action.
5. Look beyond the employee. Consider both the employee’s capabilities and the manager’s capabilities. Is the employee a poor performer because management is not giving proper guidance? Could the employee work better under another manager? Sometimes a change in management can turn a poor performer into a shining star.
6. Have and follow a solid employee handbook. When your employee handbook includes clearly documented policies and procedures that are consistently being followed, employees understand what is expected of them and also what may happen if they choose not to follow them.
7. Set your employees up for success. Whenever possible, make sure the employees are given access to the necessary tools and knowledge needed to perform the job successfully. Often employees are not able to perform to the level expected because the tools and software are outdated and less effective.
8. Train your managers. Managers who have been trained in the RESPECT Model of Employee Engagement will be able to easily identify poor performers and respond accordingly.
Sometimes employees can deceive us. Even If you have followed all of the win strategies, there are times when we have to accept that we just made a bad hire. When that is the case, it is time to consider saying, “You’re Fired!” At this point, it should not come as a shock to the poor performer. It may not be easy, but you can feel some comfort knowing you have done everything possible to ensure the success of the employee.