One of the tasks most business owners and managers hate to do is letting someone go. That’s not surprising because it means telling someone they are performing badly enough to have their employment terminated. It’s emotionally stressful for the manager, and it can be demoralizing for the employee. While it’s usually best to work with someone in order to make them a productive and congenial part of the team, sooner or later you’re going to have to face dismissing someone.
In my view, there are three sides to a potential dismissal: performance, attitude and environmental. The performance side is easy to assess. Their sales numbers are far below what they should be, their redo rate is sky high or patients often complain about their behavior. Performance can be determined by hard data such as sales records and patient surveys.
Behavior is the outward social indicator of one’s values. John has always disliked serving people, so he is gruff. Holly has been habitually late to other obligations such as school, appointments and other jobs, and that continues in your office. The best way to avoid employee behavioral issues is to screen for them during the hiring process.
Environmental issues are a bit more complicated because they usually have their roots outside the office. Anthony and his wife already have two children and are expecting a third. Anthony knows he cannot support five people on his salary, which leads to sleepless nights and poor work performance. Teresa has been in an abusive relationship for the last six months, causing her to make coding mistakes, poor triage decisions and accounting errors. These delicate situations must be handled with discretion, compassion and effectiveness. To do so, speak privately with the employee and work with them to develop a solution. Explain their poor performance and share the data you have concerning it. Ask why they are having this problem and what they feel would be good ways to solve it. Using their suggestions and your ideas, develop a plan you both agree to that includes timelines and performance improvement targets. You’ll both sign this “partners in success” agreement. You should meet every week or two to review their progress and give feedback.
Hopefully your joint efforts will pay off and the employee meets expectations. If they don’t, you can dismiss them knowing you reached out, offered assistance and gave them opportunity to improve. That’s as good as it gets in dismissal situations.
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