4 Tips for Terminating an Employee (and Maybe Even Staying Friends)

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Dec 4, 2014

At some point in their careers, managers will face the tough position of having to let someone go based on performance, and if they did their job right, it will be someone who they have built a friendship with.

Outside of personally wanting to maintain a relationship with a former employee, there are other benefits to letting someone go amicably.

Sometimes, employees may have a great work ethic and attitude, but they simply couldn’t deliver for that specific role, and it’s important to maintain a relationship in these types of situations.

Parting ways without resentment

These hardworking individuals most likely surround themselves with similar people and talk highly of the company, which in turn will feed that funnel of potential strong candidates. Plus, it’s a small world and managers never know where their next client can come from.

Also, in a world where everyone takes situations and complaints online, ending on a good note will help ensure the former employee doesn’t write a bad review of the company, discrediting its brand.

So how does a manager part ways without any resentment? Here are four (4) tips:

1. Rip the Band-Aid off

The tough conversations about performance aren’t easy to have, especially when the employee is putting in the hours and is committed to the company and genuinely nice, but honesty is the best policy.

Rip the Band-Aid off and address issues as soon as they begin. Show direct examples of the problem areas and talk through them. That way when it’s time to make that tough decision, it won’t be a surprise.

2. Step up and take responsibility

Managers should realize that an employee’s inability to produce isn’t only a reflection of the employee, but also of themselves as managers.

They should be asking themselves if they’ve done everything in their power to help the employee succeed. Did they offer weekly one-on-one training sessions? The opportunity to watch webinars? Give reading materials for the employee to improve skills?

It’s important managers show the employee they are taking the time to invest in them and help them improve.

3. Go to a performance improvement plan

If the employee is still failing after all the tools and step-by-step directions are given, but they still want to work at it, management should give them the option of a performance improvement plan (also known as a PIP).

Performance improvement plans should have strict goals and deadlines, outlining exactly what they need to do to improve, and what the consequences are if they don’t. It should be put in writing and the human resources team should be involved.

Hold employees accountable to the deliverables that need to be achieved. Address their improvement or lack thereof on a daily or weekly basis.

4. Help them to leave

If the employee is still struggling after all the steps above are taken and they acknowledge this role simply isn’t the right fit, then assist them in finding a new job.

Whether it’s helping them to update their resume, or training them on interview tips, help them be able to best present themselves to land a role they will be good at and happy in.