8 Steps that are both morally right and good business
Dismissal should be the unavoidable last resort of a healthy management process that begins with searching and interviewing, includes hiring, training, coaching, and performance reviewing. If handled correctly, it should actually be a blessing to the organization and the employee. If you keep these two perspectives in mind, process and blessing, you will more likely do the right things with the right heart throughout this process.
It’s always inappropriate to dismiss any employee without adequate communication and discussion beforehand, including performance issues, work habits, and relationship conflicts.
Appropriate reasons to dismiss someone include these:
• Any of the above after appropriate corrective action proves fruitless.
• Not aligning with the core values of the organization.
• Dishonesty or other immoral behavior, which could be grounds for immediate dismissal, especially if covered in your personnel policies.
• Insubordination, or not following the directives of the supervisor or others in authority over the employee.
• Mismatch in job fit with the strengths and competence of the employee after growth efforts have proven inadequate and determining that modifying the position or moving the employee to another position would be harmful to the organization.
Here are the steps that I believe we must take before, during, and after we dismiss any employee. These apply to all cases other than immediate firing offenses, such as dishonesty, stealing, or other immoral behavior.
1. Don’t go it alone. And always have a mentor, coach, or trusted group of advisors that you can tap into for counsel on employee issues.
2. Follow a good process. Make sure there is an adequate performance review process in place. If not, put one in place and initiate a performance review immediately with the employee. See my article on this topic called Gospel-Centered Performance Reviews.
3. Clarify the issue needing correcting, whether performance or alignment, engaging the employee with give and take conversation in order to create complete clarity on the issue. Understand any barriers to performance, and gain agreement on the “gap” between where the employee is and where they need to be.
4. Provide appropriate and adequate support for growth and change, which could include classes and seminars, books, coaching, feedback, and time.
5. Explore the possibility of modifying the position or moving the person to another position to better align with the person’s strengths and passions, if that is possible without too negatively impacting the organization.
6. Clearly communicate the possibility of dismissal.
a. Here is where a heart-to-heart discussion about job fit and what’s best for both the employee and the organization must be included.
b. I absolutely believe that if the person isn’t right for the position and/or the organization, then we are LOVING them well by making the separation.
7. Stay the course. If the behavior or performance still doesn’t change adequately in the agreed time frame, then the employee has made the decision for you, in effect.
8. Follow up with the employee regularly to give whatever support and encouragement you can. And here is the extra mile that you can choose to travel: contact the spouse to express sympathy and support. There will typically be more hard feelings with the spouse than the employee.
No one said that management would be easy! But almost all of us do have to dismiss someone. Let’s commit to following a process that is truly loving to the individual and others and is most beneficial to the organization as well.
John Purcell is a leadership and organizational health coach, working with churches, nonprofits, and for profit organizations. He specializes in leadership coaching, strategic planning, team building, and governance effectiveness. He is also Chapter President for Truth@Work Atlanta, a business leader roundtable ministry specifically for Christian leaders.
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