YOU’RE FIRED! 5 tips on terminating an employee.

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A leadership post dedicated to our executive clients:

YOU’RE FIRED! Organizations have to be very careful when they make not only hiring decisions, but also when deciding that the relationship is not mutually beneficial and it’s time to terminate employment. In order to avoid costly mistakes that may result in legal action, employers must think of the associate first and the business second. For example, has the company looked at the situation through the eyes of the associate? Ultimately, the organization is trying to protect itself but compassion can go a long way. These five tips may save an associate’s job or may save the company time and money in costly mistakes.

Tip #1: Train leadership

Leadership in organizations must first know how to handle associate concerns or issues. There are two ways to handle an associate’s concerns or issues: the right way or the wrong way. Whether it is behavioral, performance, or a policy violation handling these sometimes tricky situations must be done with care. Training leaders in best practices and steps to take when they encounter issues with associates will give the organization the first line of defense in protecting itself and avoiding humiliation.

Tip #2: Have an iron clad associate handbook

Organizations of any size must have policies and practices outlined in an associate handbook. The handbook has to be a resource that associates and employers can reference when questions arise.  A clear and concise reference will allow leaders the ability to make sound decisions with the organization’s best interests at heart. Associates will have clear expectations and defined policies.  Consulting with HR professionals and legal counsel for assistance with the associate handbook will allow the organization to align their policies with the latest laws and regulations.

Tip #3: Consistency is key

Unfortunately when it comes to associate relation’s best practices, the more consistent the better. Unfortunately, because there are so many variables this can be a huge challenge. Organizations may want to be empathetic but this can lead to problems. For example, an associate would like time off for personal reasons. The manager decides that this is ok and approves an excused absence that is not in line with the organization’s attendance policy. Another associate requests the same thing and the manager denies the request. Looking at this from the associate’s perspective, he will start to wonder why the other associate was approved and his request denied. Favoritism? Discrimination? Retaliation? Consistency avoids these questions.

Tip #4 Listen and you shall hear

Leaders cannot ignore associate’s complaints and concerns. An issue that may have been a simple misunderstanding may escalate if ignored. Listen to the associate and try to talk through their issues, and as their manager, try and resolve their concerns as quickly as possible. Associates will be heard if not by their manager than by their manager’s manager and most don’t want to let it get that far.

Tip #5 When all else fails

When a manager feels it is time to part ways with an associate, they should consult with their HR professional. If the organization is small and there is not an HR department, they should consult with someone in the HR field or outside counsel. There are many things to consider when deciding to not continue the employee employer relationship.  Looking at the termination through the eyes of the associate before letting him/her go may prevent further issues that may result from the termination.

Associates are a company’s greatest assets. When treated as such, organizations can prevent missteps. Look at the situation through the eyes of the associate. Do they feel they are being treated fairly and consistently? Protecting the organization is the goal. Fair and consistent practices in an organization, regardless of the number of associates, will allow decision makers to do what is best.

Jill Scott is Boldthink’s new project and business development manager. Her primary professional interest is in HR best practices, process improvement and project management. She lives in Indianapolis with her husband and 2 young children, 2 dogs, and 1 cat.

photo credit: City of Olathe, KS via photopin cc