How to let an employee go the right way.
It’s never easy to terminate an employee. These life-changing conversations tend to be uncomfortable for all parties, especially when the termination is a result of poor employee performance. Yet, being in a position to hire someone means being prepared to let someone go if it isn’t working out. The good news is, there are ways to lessen the blow on the front end to make those conversations less painful.
The Art of Letting Someone Go
The key is to start at the very beginning of the working relationship. Managers should provide clear performance expectations from day one, that are reinforced with regular SMART goal setting meetings and performance reviews. During the onboarding process, managers must give constructive feedback on where the employee stands, addressing any development issues upfront, while providing actionable follow up items. Setting expectations helps both the employee and the manager track and measure individual progress.
If an employee is not meeting their specific expectations, have a meeting to identify the issue, while providing clear and specific feedback. Explain the problem in detail and provide the necessary direction to help ensure that the situation is remedied using situational leadership tactics that are based on the employee’s development level. Set aside time to sit down and work with them on the solution, while creating clear objectives. Then, schedule a formal follow-up meeting to evaluate progress again in a few weeks.
If the situation has not improved after the specified time, then it’s time to escalate the conversations. During this discussion, reinforce your belief in them, while expecting a change and explaining how their performance could jeapordize their employment. This is essentially a documented performance plan to lay the framework in the event that you have to let them go. Make sure to emphasize the requirements, and continue to work with the employee on remedying the problem. Then set a specific day and time to follow up on the action items. If they don’t meet the clear and specific requirements, make the decision to relieve them from their position.
Follow Through on Expectations
At this point, you have done everything you can to position the employee for success and it hasn’t worked. Once you’ve made the decision to part ways, schedule a conversation with the employee. Let them know at the very beginning of the conversation that you will be parting ways. Explain that their performance hasn’t measured up to their expectations, and emphasize that by keeping them around, you are holding them back from an opportunity that better aligns with their strengths. If you’ve done a good job of performance management, they will be able to anticipate the conversation, which will take a great deal of the awkwardness off of the table.
While ending a working relationship is never fun, there are ways to reduce the discomfort, and even make it a win-win for both parties. If you follow our guidelines from the beginning, parting ways will become a lot easier. Don’t let the uncomfortable conversation be the reason you keep someone around. Contact us for more information.