The termination. It’s usually the final part of the employee lifecycle. Sometimes it’s because an employee has decided to move on and other times, it’s because the employee has committed some type of misconduct. In cases of misconduct or an employee not being the right “fit” for the company or the position, I find that employers often want to put any and every infraction the employee did over the course of their employment into the reason for termination. I’m here to tell you don’t, and here’s why.
Management Shouldn’t Wait Until the End
The important part of being a manager is that it’s something that you’re always doing. You should always be coaching and encouraging your staff, reinforcing company service standards, and holding your staff in the highest regard. Consistent management establishes a foundational relationship between the employee and you AND the employee and the company. When you wait until the end to hold them accountable for something, you haven’t done the work that critical for successful management. You’ve allowed something to go on for too long and with that, you haven’t served the employee properly.
If It’s Important Enough Now, It Should Have Been Important Enough When It Happened
If it is a significant enough infraction to bring up upon termination, then it was important enough to bring up when it happened. Delaying tough conversations is a huge problem in management and it doesn’t help your employees be successful in their role. When you deliver the message at termination it no longer is about self-reflection and performance improvement, it’s about criticism.
In addition, it doesn’t matter at that point. The performance issue wasn’t significant enough to warrant job termination so there’s no point in bringing it up because the employee isn’t given an opportunity to correct it. When you’ve gotten to the point of termination, you want to make sure it is for a clear and tangible reason, one that’s significant enough to warren a termination, not just a culmination of things that you never addressed the employee with.
What’s In It For Them
The biggest piece of advice when delivering a termination or any type of bad news is to frame the conversation as “What’s In It For Them?” Answering questions like ‘When will they receive their file paycheck?” or “How can they file for unemployment?” help make the news a bit more bearable however when you compound on all the things they did during their employment that you never spoke to them about, it’s really hard for them to see the big picture.
In my ten years of working in HR, terminations haven’t gotten easier to deliver and they likely never will, however, delivering a termination that is well documented and thoroughly evaluated can make the process cleaner.
Don't ever lose sight of the fact that it's another human that you're working with.