This article comes from Entrepreneur.
This respect should extend to when things aren’t working out. Here are my four strategies for terminating a contract with compassion and integrity.
At my company, Hint, we have two types of terminations: performance-based and attitude-based. If a staff member isn’t meeting clear criteria, we would never just let them go. We make sure their manager has an extensive conversation with that employee to let them know where they missed the mark. Together, they’ll strategize ways for the employee to succeed. That way, the employee is aware of their performance and becomes part of the solution.
We then give the employee a timeline — typically between 30 to 90 days — and schedule check-ins along the way, helping us gauge whether a staffer can continue with the company. They usually show progress, because goals are broken down into manageable milestones. A study from the University of Michigan found that 76 percent of participants who wrote down their goals and actions and provided weekly progress to a friend achieved their goals. But if the employee still hasn’t made progress by the end of the trial period, it’s time for that hard conversation.
Before we let someone go, we make sure they wouldn’t be happier elsewhere in the company. Sometimes, an employee doesn’t realize they’re headed toward burnout until you have an honest conversation about their output. I often suggest moving someone laterally or to another department when they show signs of dissatisfaction. Maybe they’ve got a great skillset, but they’ve been in sales for many years, and an opportunity in marketing would be a breath of fresh air. Or perhaps they’re in logistics and would enjoy a career pivot.
No matter the course of action, it’s essential for managers to document everything to stay compliant with termination laws and to show the employee why things aren’t working out. Empower your managers to take detailed notes on a problem employee’s performance or attitude so that everything is in writing. Saying someone’s “not a good fit” can open you up to legal risk, so focus on issues with performance or behavior.
My company has recently doubled in size. That means I don’t personally fire anyone anymore; that’s in the jurisdiction of our Director of People. I work closely with her so that I’m involved in the process, and I suggest you do the same at your startup. Whether it’s an entry-level hire or someone more senior, a leader needs to be aware of anyone who isn’t pulling their weight on the team and understand why.
If you decide to fire the employee, develop a termination plan with HR to ensure you’re following the law and your company’s procedures. You might have an HR rep present at any meeting where you discuss an employee’s future at the company. Or you might hire an outside party for an independent review or show your best practices.
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