Note on Terminations

By Bethany Coates, R. Ellis
2007 | Case No. E299
Terminating employees is one of the most unpleasant, yet necessary, responsibilities managers have to carry out. The Wall Street Journal has reported that firing someone is one of three situations that make company presidents most uneasy. Due to a number of factors including anxiety, lack of preparation and ingrained social norms, terminations are often botched, putting companies at risk for low employee morale, negative PR, and lawsuits, among other undesirable outcomes. The ideal course of action is to prevent a termination in the first place through a combination of effective hiring, communication, coaching and management. Yet, after all other reasonable options have been exhausted, retaining a ‘problem employee’ may be the only action worse than firing him. Keeping such an individual on staff allows substandard results or harmful behavior to continue and simultaneously sends the message to the rest of the organization that the company tolerates under-performance. As a result, the best course of action in these situations is to carefully prepare for a termination and then conduct it swiftly and respectfully. After an employee has been fired, proactively informing those with a need to know and filling the vacant position as soon as possible minimizes disruption to the organization. When a termination is properly handled, companies often resume normal business operations with very little tumult.
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