There is No Such Thing as a Perfect Termination

There is No Such Thing as a Perfect Termination

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by Greg Moore, Customer Relationship Manager

In a previous blog, we discussed the importance of addressing poor performance from an employee as soon as it is detected. We set forth some ideas about how to conduct a performance discussion. As a manager, your first goal should always be to “turn around” the employee and set her on a good path. Nevertheless, sometimes your efforts will fail and you must consider terminating the employee for the good of the entire organization.

If you see matters trending in this direction, it is a good idea to prepare. Review all your notes from performance discussions with the employee. Set forth a written timeline of past discussions. When did you meet? Who was present? What was discussed? What commitments did she make with regard to improving?

Conduct a formal review with her, including a witness, and explain that she is being placed on “probation”. Explain precisely what this step means in terms of your own organization’s policies. And, prepare a document that shows:

  • When you met previously
  • What are the issues of performance that were discussed
  • What did she commit to do to improve
  • How long is the probation and how can she get removed from this status
  • When will you meet next to assess progress

And, be clear that the next step if her performance does not improve could possibly be termination.

If you have done all of this and it still results in termination, you might very well be thinking, “Well, I’ve done my due diligence and tried to help her – at least this will be a smooth termination.” Don’t bet on it. There is no such thing as a perfect termination. Human beings simply don’t work that way. Even if you have consulted with your in-house experts and “touched all the bases”, there is still a good chance that something unexpected will come up. It happens. Do the best you possibly can to prepare for the termination meeting. Does your policy allow for a severance package? Under what circumstances? Will you provide any outplacement assistance? How will that be arranged? Feel confident in your actions or don’t proceed. Better to wait a day or two and get it right. Then, remember that no termination is flawless. Simply deal with any unexpected and lingering issues openly and honestly – applying the sound judgment of a leader.

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