We make two critical mistakes in America when it comes to our underperforming or otherwise problematic employees: we either fire them too quickly or not quickly enough. Both outcomes can a have extremely detrimental impact on business performance.
Firing someone is unpleasant and risky. There are legal, customer relation, reputation, remaining co-workers, violence in the workplace and many more opportunities for concern which come into play when you let an employee go. Additionally, the replacement may not perform any better than the person you are terminating.
Smart companies aren’t “parts changers” – they find good people, train and supervise them well. They focus on making their current employees better and don’t seek out the elusive “new answer” which often turns into their “new problem.”
Sometimes, however, helping someone “out” is exactly the right thing to do. I’ve seen terminations make immediate and huge differences in remaining employee morale, turnover, customer service and other factors. Often, due to the concerns mentioned above, chronic underperforming or pernicious employees are allowed to stay much too long.
I have two suggestions to make the termination process less risky and unpleasant.
Get some support when you are considering firing someone. Bring in someone from outside your organization to train and support your supervisors before the termination occurs. A little training and coaching goes a very long way to improve the outcome of these, sometimes very challenging, meetings.
Provide Outplacement Assistance
When you fire someone, their first thought is often “how am I going to … feed myself, pay the rent, etc.” This fear often causes them to do things they might not otherwise do (legal, co-worker morale and customer impacts are the most typical). The terminating employee’s actions distract you from your business and can cost you time, money, reputation and happiness.
Outplacement, using an outside firm to guide the employee in their job search activities, often saves you many times what it costs and it is the humane thing to do. You often hear the phrase “corporate responsibility” bandied about. Here is an opportunity to step up and take responsibility by truly helping folks when they need help.
Know when to fire and how to fire. If you need help making the decision or doing the termination, it is often best to bring an experienced, objective outsider into the loop – to ensure things go easier for all parties. Help employees “out” by providing outplacement assistance. It is inexpensive and the right thing to do.
Start today to improve your organization! I’ll be here to encourage and help you in any way I can. Call, write or let’s get together to make this year the best year ever!