Before You Fire Someone…
Have you heard of this statement “hire slow, fire fast?” It’s a good school of thought to follow when managing employees. A bad hire decreases the productivity of everyone on your team. Yet…you still need a process in place to deal with employee issues and termination.
What does firing fast mean? It doesn’t mean the first time an employee’s performance is below satisfactory you terminate them. What it does mean is that you are coaching, counseling and tracking the performance of your new hires. If you see that an employee is not able to perform the essential functions of their position, you need to intervene quickly out of respect for them, you and the rest of your team.
What about a long-term employee who has performed well over the years and for some reason their performance has dropped considerably. This is a different scenario, yet you still need to coach and counsel the employee to boost their performance levels.
Take some time to understand the reason for their decrease in performance. Is it a personal problem, has something change in the work environment, or has additional responsibilities been placed on the employee and they are not able to meet the new expectations. Try to help the employee understand what is influencing their unsatisfactory performance.
Most companies recognize that sometimes an employee’s personal issue can affect their work performance and short-term accommodations are made to help the employee through a challenging time. Yet, it’s the employee’s responsibility to elevate their performance as soon as possible. Sometimes a manager has to make a tough decision if an employee can’t rebound and start to contribute again to the success of the department.
Do you have an employee that barely does the minimum amount of work? Managers can be tempted to keep this employee, because of the hiring process or just too busy to find another person. If this is the case for you, you need to intervene quickly and give the employee a performance improvement plan with a timetable around elevating their performance. This type of employee only adds to morale issues within a department and influences the productivity of everyone around them.
Employees with an employment contract usually have discipline procedures included in the contract. Just follow the process and procedures included in the contract.
A simple process…
In most U.S. states there is an “at-will” status regarding employment with a company. Simply put, an employee has the right to resign at any time and for any reason. The company has the right to terminate employment at any time, with or without a cause and for any reason. As a manager, make sure to check your employee manual and any contracts an employee has with the company.
The following points are not mandatory nor would I suggest you make them part of your employee manual. Rather, use them as a guide in managing employees.
- Take the time to coach all new employees on the essential functions of their role, as well as any expectations you have regarding performance. If you give new responsibilities to an established employee, include training as part of the transition.
- When you notice an employee is not performing to expectations, start counseling them towards higher performance levels.
- If you have trained the employee and provided them with follow up critique on their performance, and there is still a performance issue, then create a performance improvement plan for them. This plan needs to be specific around the performance or behavior issue(s) and dates when you will follow up to evaluate their performance levels.
- If the employee is still not performing or their behavior hasn’t changed, then you need to start the termination process.
- Early intervention with employees helps them perform better and provides you with an understanding of the employee’s ability to perform satisfactory.
- …document, document, document all interactions with the employee.
Before you terminate an employee, check in with your Human Resources or Legal Department. Employees do sue, so you want to make sure that there is no potential discrimination or any other legal issues involved in the termination.
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The Art of Disciple for Managers
How To Handle Poor Performance (Part 1)
How To Handle Poor Performance (Part 2)