Four Signals that Suggest Termination


While participating in a management meeting, I witnessed an intense discussion about whether Alex, a long-time employee, should be terminated.  Most admitted concern about Alex’s performance but several were hesitant fire Alex.

Managers who argued for keeping Alex made statements like:  “Alex has been with us for a long time.”  “Technology has changed his job a lot.”  “He’s not a bad person.”

Managers struggle with termination decisions because they realize employees need income for food, clothing, and shelter; and often, to support family members.  Peers, even though they realize that their workload is overburdened by a slacker, may still worry about the forever absence of a work associate.

Below are four signals to clarify the appropriate time for pressing the termination button.

The low-performing employee . . .

  1. . . . is unresponsive to coaching and training.
  2. . . . shows little or no enthusiasm for the job.
  3. . . . complains excessively about managers’ decisions.
  4. . . . has shown little, or no, improvement for six months.

If any one of the four statements apply, a caring termination is likely better for both the company and the employee.

 

All Employees Are the Same; All Are Different


Eric’s manager said to me, “Eric will not take initiative. He knows his job but does only what I tell him to do.”

“What have you tried?” I asked.

“I’ve told him to do what he thinks needs to be done and don’t wait around for me to give him an assignment. He wasn’t responsive, so I started giving him detailed checklists.”

“How did that work?”

“Not so well.  Eric made a half-hearted effort to do a few things but mostly he just conjured up excuses.”

Effective leaders are attentive to each employees’ uniqueness.  Some like detailed instructions, some like broad guidance.   Some like public praise but public attention embarrasses others.  Pressure motivates some people to rise to the occasion, others buckle.

If your current way of dealing with an employee is not producing the desired results, then change your methods.

Since micromanaging did not work with Eric, maybe the leader could try giving him specific outcomes with deadlines and a lot of freedom in performing his tasks.

Of course, if a leader tries several ways to motivate an employee and none seem to work, it is likely that the employee just does not have the talent or commitment to perform.

There is No Substitute for Face-to-Face


“Some of my team members work in the office and some are in the field,” explained Tillford.  “People in the field seem to have difficulty understanding my expectations.  I often have to send documents back for corrections and updates.”

Tillford further explained that the office and field members were well-trained and, thanks to robust electronic media, he used the same format for communicating to both groups.

I asked, “Do field staff every come to the office?  Do you visit them in the field?”

“Field people come in every quarter for our all-hands meetings but I don’t get much one-on-one time with them.”

I said to Tillford that perhaps he should make time for more face-to-face contact, either by periodically visiting field offices or by asking field staff to travel to his office.  Because of the cost and inconvenience, Tillford had resisted doing this in the past.  However, because he was so frustrated with current performances, he agreed to try it.

Six months later, Tillford reported, “I can’t believe how much our communication has improved.  After just a few field visits, our understanding improved dramatically and field team members are performing just as well, maybe even better, than their office counterparts.”