No matter the reasons, accept the fact: it is always a hard to let an employee go. The more time you spend avoiding taking action, the costlier this procrastination will become. Ultimately if you are going to learn from this experience, you will have to acknowledge that you had a hand in this process, you made a judgment call upon hiring this candidate and now you have to deal with the consequences of your action.
According to Jack Welch, former President of G.E., seasoned managers who are experienced in the interview/ hiring process, have at best, a 75% success rate. Junior management has at best a 50% success rate. So chances are three out of ten candidates we hire, will ultimately be the wrong choice and will end up being separated or reassigned from the team.
Here are some tips that will turn the exit/separation interview into a more pleasant experience for all concerned:
- When first conducting an exit/separation interview, select a time that will cause the least disruption, have a manager present. Prepare to discuss this situation in general terms, avoid getting into the weeds with details, you will not succeed. Details should have been explained in prior conversations and in their monthly one-on one meeting.
- Start your exit/ separation interview by asking if this position is meeting their original expectations. If they respond with a ‘yes’ then explain it is not working from the management side. Explain that you have arrived to the difficult decision that this relationship is no longer a good fit. If the response is a ‘no’ to expectations, ask why; be attentive to their response, as this perception is their reality. By hearing their response, it should justify the actions that are now taking place. You may also learn what new changes you may to need make, to avoid similar situations.
- At this next stage of the meeting, chances are, they are asking for reasons and you might want to remind them about previous conversations. You can briefly cover a few instances that were brought to their attention, with a request for change and no adequate outcome evolved. Again be careful of being dragged into the weeds, turning the conversation into a ‘we said/ they said dialogue’ is not the best outcome. The entire meeting needs to be conducted in a civil and professional manner.
- Your next move is to start changing the conversation from the past to the future. Ask if they have thought of other options, if they will require any assistance in relocating to another establishment, the type of references you are willing to provide. If there is a separation package, explain what that entails, as well as how any investments or benefit packages will be rolled over. Make sure you follow through with a letter/ email explaining the separation terms. In this letter do not include the reasons of termination but rather about the transfer of benefits and closure, wishing them well in their future endeavors.
- Make sure you give them time to compose themselves, prior to escorting them to gather their personal belongings and vacate the building.
To avoid costly distractions, keep your current team happy... you want to have covered the following ahead of time:
- Make sure you have had prior contact in your monthly one-on-one meetings and had the chance to explain where expectations are not being matched or exceeded. Agree that if change does not occur, continued employment will not be possible in the foreseeable future. Keep documentation of every meeting/ warning, have a witness present, preferably their manager, or someone from your team that is well respected and can keep information confidential.
- Consult with a lawyer who specializes in human resource.
- Talk with your insurance agent; find out if you have any coverage on employee separation.
- Have your lawyer/ agent read your employee handbook, implement their recommendations.
- Have a format in place to document written warnings.
- Make sure all conversations and documentation remain private and confidential.
- An event as unpleasant as this cannot and should not be rushed, plan on this meeting lasting at most between twenty to thirty minutes.
- Make sure you are in the right frame of mind, give yourself some time and think through how you plan to conduct this meeting.
- Remind yourself to remain always civil and professional, that the action you're about to take will ultimately benefit your team as well the individual you are meeting with.