Terminating an employee

A manager managing people for any length of time, it is likely that, at some stage, he might have given someone a terminal because they aren’t performing to his expectations; because he no longer needs their role performed; or because they’ve breached a company policy. Firing someone is often as devastating for the person terminating as the one being terminated.

Day in and Day out, the work gets done. What if an employee suddenly just stops performing? First and foremost, it is important to understand the reason for the drop in productivity. The reasons could be many. It could be a death in the family an illness, a broken relationship, mid-life crisis etc. Hence, a one-to-one interaction with the employee is important to understand the reasons.

Performance is linked with intrinsic as well as extrinsic factors. So, if an employee stops performing, we try to understand and address the possible impediments through counseling sessions.

A sudden fall in performance is the first signal of an employee’s disengagement either with work or the organization and calls for immediate introspection. Catch early on such signals and have immediate discussions with employee to identify the distributing factors and immediately take corrective measures to help overcome those.

Hire and fire is not always on the priority list of any company, unless the employee is being asked to leave on integrity issues. The usual reason for asking employees to leave is below par performance. In case the employee is lacking in performance and shows no signs of improvement, he/ she is pink slipped. Consistent non-performance, disciplinary issues like non compliance to company policy and integrity related issues may lead to the termination of an employee.

Unintentional mistakes are tolerable, but intentional blunders which have a devastating impact on the company’s reputation, image or bottom line are not. If there is no remarkable improvement even after providing the required support, counseling or mentoring, the employee gets identified for termination. Similarly, any willful action on the part of employee contrary to critical aspects of defined code of conduct like core values matters of national interest/regulatory compliance, health and safety norms, ethical codes of conduct, concurrent employment, security of confidential information, taking and/or giving bribe will also get the employee identifies for termination.

Unless the termination is over an integrity issue, firing an employee is no longer considered a reflection of his/her inabilities. Several employees who have been asked to leave on performance grounds have done exceedingly well in other organizations. The employee must be given clear reasons as to why they are being asked to leave. It is well known fact that every employee is a brand ambassador of the company; hence firing should be done with dignity and compassion.

Some organizations generally give one verbal warning, one written warning and then eventually terminate the services of the employee if no change is seen. While terminating, any explanations regarding the reasons behind the termination are explicitly stated. The final communication to the employee is done in a professional manner as it helps prevent any bitterness.

After giving training and opportunities to the concerned employee in most organizations the performance record is shared with the employee with full respect and dignity and the decision of parting ways is firmly communicated so that there are no hard feelings. The ideal way of firing is by being honest, fair and transparent.

It does happen that some employees who have been in the organization for many years stop performing. They do not upgrade their skill sets and hence are not able to deal with global chances that are happening in a very regular basis. Asking such an employee to leave is undoubtedly the most daunting task. Good training, change of roles and counseling does help to a certain extent. As these employees have been in the system for a long time, they can be an asset in the right department. Firing must be done as a last alternative.

Non performance among old employees is a possibility only when complacency creeps into the system. If such cases occur, they are given a job rotation and a fixed time to show improvement under close monitoring.

HR interventions ranging from reinforcing and effectively communicating expectations from employees and enlightening them as to how their company’s performance and growth has deteriorated over the years will help. Initiating effective employee engagement programs will certainly help re-build the lost enthusiasm and commitment back among the employees. A ‘Voluntary Retirement Scheme’ is also an option for some employees who have stopped performing.

Many a times, an organization faces situations where there is immediate need to cut down costs and also reduce the employee number. Firing or de-hiring is common when there are mergers and acquisitions, cutting down of costs, etc. The companies therefore have a lot to lose, especially their reputation if it is not done in a planned way. In such situations, companies do take extra care while ‘de-hiring’ employees for whom they cannot find roles in line with their skills. In such situations, the employer should be as sensitive as possible and explain the gravity of the situation to its employees. Providing monetary benefits or facilitating the employees in their job search, can help to a great extent. At times, companies having set ups in multiple locations can relocate their employees to other possible locations.

Organization is a group of people intentionally organized to accomplish an overall common goal or set of goals. Hence, all problems of the organization are also its employee’s. All employees are partners in the organization’s growth and so all are partners in the organization’s failures too. Hence, as a team, we have to plan cost cutting measures to enable the organization sustain and once again regain the lost glory ad become profitable.

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