Send the right message during employee terminations

by on May 26, 2009 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

Your transition into a leadership role and employee terminations

The transition from friend and co-worker to boss is a hard transition-especially with employee terminations. One thing that’ll help is thinking like “CNN”. You have got to realize how the outsider and the employee looks at us now as the boss when it comes to employee terminations

If you’ve already made this transition and you remember it, you recognize that some of the friends that you had before are no longer friends. All because you went on to the other side and became management. Some people understand the difference between friend and boss and understand the situation that puts you in with employee terminations

Make a distinction before employee terminations
It helps to just make the distinction between “friend” and “boss”. So if someone goes, “Can I have next week off?” ask them, “Are you asking me as a friend or the boss?” And they’ll say, “Oh the friend.” Your response would be “Oh, as a friend, I’d love to give it to you. As the boss, no chance, it would leave the unit uncovered.” So, you’re going to have to look at your responses, your language, the messages you send, and all your actions and see how an outsider would see them. That way you’re also being consistent and not putting yourself at risk for a lawsuit if you end up with employee terminations

Manage your mouth
Suppose you’re the boss, and you say to one of your employees: “You look very nice today.” Now, this is part of managing our mouth and that could be fine. And she says, “Thank you very much.” That’s fine. It’s a simple interaction between adults at work.

Now, same words. “You look very nice today.” Now, this time she doesn’t say “Thank you.” Say, she says, “You’re creepy,” and sues. And companies wonder why they get themselves in trouble. As a manager, it’s just as important to manage your mouth.

If you’re not sure where that line is think about “CNN”. If you wouldn’t do it or say it on “CNN”, don’t do it, say it or allow it to be done or said in your operation. And these days, also keep in mind that things happen within minutes. Everyone’s got a cell phone or a camera, so if something goes wrong there’s a video of it on Youtube, there’s language on the blog. Most of the time you won’t come under that kind of scrutiny. But start thinking that way. That will help you send a message both when disciplining and terminating employees.

It ends up being very politically correct. But at the same time, if I’m looking at this as HR and somebody is upset about a nickname, and whether it’s Osama, old timer, anything like that, suddenly it becomes no surprise when you get sued for age or national origin discrimination.

Now, don’t get to the point where you don’t say anything at work. At the same time, though look at your operation like an outsider would. You’re the boss. Send the right message. When I’m communicating, I want to make sure that there’s some workplace civility, and that I’m not yelling and screaming at people.

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

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