Be consistent and make exceptions to employee terminations

by on May 28, 2009 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

You have to be willing to make exceptions to employee terminations for performance

As much as you’d like to find a silver bullet and think that if you just do this, this and this when it comes to employee terminations, then you’ll be safe every single time, it really doesn’t work that way. Both in terms of discipline and in employee terminations, you have to be willing to make exceptions.

It depends?
This is where HR people drive frontline supervisors nuts because here’s what they are going to tell you. Do it to one, do it to all, be consistent and make exceptions. Honestly, they will tell you that it depends. So, you’re going to want to be consistent be willing to make exceptions. Make exceptions for good people. If you’ve got a great employee that’s been a superstar employee, that has given you outstanding results, that has slogged it out, persevered, that’s gotten projects in early, work done early, and been more productive than you ever imagined, clearly you’re going to, taking into account whatever constraints you have, reward the employee. You have to get creative, especially if you’re in a union, government, or large company bureaucracies. You have to find ways as a manager to send the message. Could be something as simple as taking your best employee out to lunch. It can be little things that show the other workers you know the difference between good and bad.

Consider employee terminations on a case by case basis
Equal opportunity doesn’t mean equal treatment. If you treat good and bad employees the same, then you’re sending the wrong message.

It’s still case by case. There really is no silver bullet for employee terminations. Consider a young man that comes in with the yarmulke on his head as a Jewish religious ritual when the company has a policy against wearing hats. The manager has got to make a determination.

Now, is the manager going to go after this kid? The answer is no. He will make an exception. Yes, it is based on the list. But it’s also in your best business interest, and it’s also common business sense. If you get into a situation where you aren’t sure if you should make an exception, call HR. You’ve got support. But you’re also going to have to make some of those decisions, especially with employee terminations.

When dealing with employee terminations, you want to think how HR thinks. I want to think like the outsider thinks from a legal point of view. Think about “60 Minutes”. Would you want to go on “60 Minutes” and explain your actions? Granted, 60 Minutes isn’t always right but they are everywhere. This will help you understand how HR thinks, how a judge thinks, a jury thinks, how these agencies, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), or your state, human rights, civil rights commissions — this is how they think. Think like them, think “60 Minutes”.

Edited remarks from the Rapid Learning Institute webinar: “Yes, You Can Fire Without Fear! What Every Supervisor Needs to Know” by Hunter Lott, Esq. on August 22, 2007

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