Tips for Managing Termination
It is usually a manager's most dreaded task - termination. But when an employee's performance doesn't improve after months of counseling, coaching, and documenting, you've got to face it.
Firing for substandard performance means one of two things: either the employee can't do the job even after substantial training, or he/she can't get along with others even after considerable counseling.
If you've been doing your job, you've spoken to him/her informally and formally, and you two have agreed on improvement plans that the employee hasn't carried out. Throughout the disciplinary process, you've kept written records of conversations, agreements, and your observations. In short, you've seen no positive change. At this point, termination will not only be a shock to the employee, it may almost be a relief.
Don't just do it unmercifully. Even when he or she knows what's coming, rejection and humiliation still hurt.
Use this as your guide to handling a difficult situation. These tips will not only make all parties more comfortable with a termination, but may well keep you out of court, too!
- Make sure you're on solid ground in discharging the employee.
- If you do have grounds to discharge, write a termination letter to present to the employee.
- Plan the meeting.
- When the employee arrives, don't beat around the bush or launch into mindless chitchat.
- Be prepared for a reaction of shock and denial, pleading and tears, or anger.
- If possible, ask the employee if he'd prefer to resign rather than being fired.
- Give the employee the letter you've prepared.
- Finish the meeting.
Although a termination hardly seems like a "win", it is, when you do it professionally.
Understandably, it's a win for you, your other employees (who ve probably had to work harder to make up for their co-worker's poor performance), and your organization.
When you handle the discharge with dignity and grace, you truly do give the employee an important opportunity to seek a more suitable position.