Employee terminations for attitude can’t be defended in court because you can’t measure attitude
Managers want to understand what motivates negative employee behavior and starts the road to employee terminations. Figure out why the employee is doing what they’re doing. To do that, ask and answer these two questions.
- What’s being awarded?
- What’s their motivation for change?
Suppose you have an employee who starts calling in sick every Wednesday. Now, they have over 30 days of sick leave built up, and they do a good job when they come to work.
So, then what’s the problem? Well, the problem becomes absenteeism. But they’ve got 30 sick days; it’s their time. That is understandable. You can see what’s being rewarded, what is their motivation for change.
Again, you shouldn’t be afraid employee termination for workers who are doing a bad job, but you have got to redefine “bad”. If we gave them all this sick leave and now, they’re using it, we get mad at them for taking what we gave them. Ask and answer simple questions in your operation; what’s being rewarded, what’s their motivation for change?
Employee Attitude in Employee Terminations
Along with absenteeism, an employee with an attitude is another issue that tends to drive us crazy. But say you go to Human Resources and you say that you’re starting employee terminations for attitude problems. They tell you that you can’t fire for that. You have to wait till the employee’s attitude affects their performance and then you can document and begin employee terminations. And yes, they’re miserable, grumpy, whiny, complaining human beings that nobody wants to work around. But, you can’t manage employee attitude, because you can’t measure attitude.
Don’t make the issue about an employee and his or her negative attitude.
The first thing to do is change the word. The word attitude should be out of your workplace vocabulary. It shouldn’t be on any evaluation sheet, or come out of the mouth of any supervisor. Instead of talking about employee attitude, talk about employee behavior. At that point you can set a standard for employee terminations. You can define negative employee behavior. And now you have a basis on which you can document and take action and start employee terminations.
Force them to maintain positive work atmosphere, by acting and in communicating in a manner so that you get along with customers, clients, co-workers and most importantly you, because you are the boss.
Some employees might say that enforcing positive employee behavior isn’t fair. They’re right; it’s not fair. But the closest we come to fair at work is consistent. You owe the employee the communication of standards. We’re pretty good communicating performance standards. We’re not so good at communicating employee behavior standards. So there it is. This puts you on record. This also gives you some flexibility, because behavior expectations of my receptionists, of my warehouse people and my sales staff, may be totally different. So, this gives me enough flexibility.
Employee terminations are about their negative behavior, not performance.
Employee terminations are about behavior, not how they do their job. But, wait a minute, firing an employee for whining? You can do that? Yes. Say the employee is not acting in a manner that results in getting along with co-workers. There’s your documentation. It might seem silly. But that negative employee behavior what’s driving you and other good people crazy.
These are the edited remarks from the Rapid Learning Institute webinar:
“Yes, You Can Fire Without Fear! What Every Supervisor Needs to Know” hosted by Hunter Lott, Esq. on 2-22-07
Subscribe to HR Info Center
Get the latest research on workplace learning with weekly posts delivered to your inbox