My coaching clients have taught me that one of the toughest decision they face is what to do about an employee who is not working up to expectations. Most often, they want to do the right thing and not let someone go before they have given them a fair opportunity to succeed. While they know the termination will be extremely painful, they also recognize that it might be the right thing to do for the company. Even in some cases, it might be the right thing to do for the individual.
In order to help employers work through this process, I have created a set of questions to help them be more objective about the decision. Here are the questions:
- On a 10 point scale, with 10 as the optimal level of performance, where would you rank the employee now?
- In your estimation, with a 10 point scale where does the employee need to be in one year for you to justify maintaining employment?
- What is the probability that the employee can reach that level in one year?
- What efforts will be required to support the employee to get to that level?
- What will be the cost to the employer and to the company to try to get the employee to that level?
I find that by going through this process, the employers were able to get a more objective perspective on the wisdom of continuing to work with the employee on their development, or to let them go. Most often, even with a low probability of success for that employee, many employers will hang in there for a while longer.
Letting the employee go will have a big impact on the organizational system. On the other hand, not letting a sub-par employee go can also have a negative impact of the organization. Often, the coworkers of somebody who is not performing their job adequately, will question the employer about why they are tolerating an inadequate performance.
You can all understand why this is the most difficult decision often faced by employer. There are huge consequences no matter which way you go. One thing I have noticed, is after an employer lets somebody go, they wonder why they did not do it sooner. In many cases, if handled properly, the employee recognizes that it is not a good fit and is prepared to move on.