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Best Practices for less Spooky Employee Dismissals

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The ground rules for properly managing employee dismissals vary greatly depending on the organization’s culture, line of business, industry, and at times job titles. Some organizations purposely choose to show more respect for salaried professionals during the process; either by virtue of following the culture or the fear of legal actions. Meanwhile, hourly dismissals are approached differently, utilizing the common shield of “at-will-employment” as a reason for dismissal.

First and foremost, when termination is due to poor performance, undesired behaviors, and even some cases of layoffs, employees should always know why they are being terminated. Terminations due to poor performance and unwanted behaviors should never come as a surprise to employees, hence why a progressive discipline and performance management plan should be in place. The worst cases of terminations for both supervisors and employees are those where an employee think of him/herself as a super-star performer, yet the supervisor thinks otherwise, and has not communicated the identified gaps. New managers and supervisors often find this communication process challenging to initiate, in which case they are not helping the organization, nor the employee(s) in question.

Secondly, keep it professional and business focused. This may have different meanings in different organizational settings and cultures; however, whenever possible dismissals should be communicated in person, through a face-to-face meeting. This allows for the employer to better assess the employee’s reaction, anticipate legal complaints, etc. Conduct the meeting in private with a member of management or HR, and an immediate supervisor who knows and understands the reason for the action been taken. In instances where the employee asks questions on the termination action, one should be provided. In such cases, the supervisor is to remain in charge of the conversation, in the form of a dialog. Answers are to be straight to the point, respectful, and honest not argumentative.

Lastly, keep the company’s interest in mind. Terminations are sensitive topics, as such they should always take place in private settings, not on the production floor or in sight of customers. Some employees may have more of an emotional reaction to been terminated than others, while its acceptable to show empathy, refrain from doing so at the expense of misleading the employee in question into thinking the decision can possibly be rescinded. Be mindful of unexpected reactions, and alert security as needed. Most importantly, dismissals due to poor performance and unwanted behaviors are accepted more easily by employees when an open communication system and progressive disciplinary process is in place. Actions leading to the decision are more obvious. As a rule of thumb, employers should be mindful of not abusing the “at-will” doctrine, and make such decisions regarding termination based on well collected facts.


Have a Spooktacular Halloween weekend!

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