LETTING PEOPLE GO - NOT A NEW CONVERSATION
As a leader, one of the situations that has brought me the most stress is letting people go. Working in departments or teams and developing working relationships brings someone closer than just “acquaintance.” So when making that decision, emotions can easily take over.
That said, I have always had an instinctual understanding of when the person and the role are not a good fit and every day is a struggle. I believe in coaching people and providing training. I also am conscious that extreme changes at work can be a barrier to colleagues performing successfully. However, at some point, there is no way to position them for success.
Even more strenuous is the person who really doesn’t want to improve or succeed. Despite conversations and documentation, these “warning signs” really mean it is time to move quickly before team dynamics are irreparably damaged. As a young manager faced with this task my stress levels would skyrocket. However a conversation with my father one day changed everything.
As a successful business owner for 40+ years he reminded me that when you reach a point of considering letting someone go, they have already fired themselves. Whether due to a bad fit or lack of desire to succeed in this environment, they have already made the choice to check out. For the conscientious leader who had tried to work with the employee, the actual termination conversation is really a confirmation of what the employee already knows. I have repeated this idea to myself before many a termination meetings.
Despite the emotions in the moment, clear communication about the misalignment or lack of desire to succeed (thus reason to leave) seems to be a relief to the truly struggling employee. There has to be another opportunity that is truly a fit for them, and another person who is truly a fit for our team.
As any HR professional will tell you, documentation and a clear conversation are really key in these meetings. “Winging it” is not the right approach. But you can clear the runway for the now former employee to soar somewhere else.
Want to zero in on your communication skills to make these meetings less stressful? Contact me and in less than 10 minutes we can identify how you can improve.