It always amazes me as I work as a leadership coach in organizations, that many leaders are afraid to have that important performance discussion with employees that are not meeting expectations.
I am extremely grateful for the excellent training I received early on in this area. The attorney that trained me at the time said two important things that I will never forget:
- We are not doing a service to the employee to keep them in a job where they are not performing. This does not feel good to most people, it is not fair to the employee to leave them in a job they are not successful in. If we work with them or allow them to exit the organization they hopefully will either increase their performance here or find a better fit in another position outside of our organization.
- We are not doing our job within the company to allow an under performer to remain on our payroll. We are losing profit if we allow this.
Made sense to me. We used a very thorough model that carefully took us through all the reasons why an employee may not be performing well. We did not allow our leaders to only think that the reason an employee was not performing was due to motivation. This model helped us accurately assess the situation. This felt very logical and ethical to me.
Once we had exhausted our options of coaching and developing the employee, we would put our expectations of increased performance in writing.
We had a very clear process here that the employee and leader would go through. It was not excess paperwork, but it was important documentation. Once we put this in writing, I always saw one of two things happen:
A. The employee would begin to perform. They would make a decision that they wanted to succeed in this position and organization.
B. The employee would self-select out. Before long, they found another position in another organization.
It usually was quite simple and easy. In the cases, which I would estimate were about 25%, when we had to help them exit the organization, it was always done fairly and with complete dignity.
Hardly ever was a lawsuit filed against us. We had coached, had data, were fair and completed our relationship with the employee with dignity and kindness. In the one case where we did have to meet with the EEOC, the mediator actually said to us “don’t give anything or it would be an admission of guilt”. They could clearly see we had used a fair and complete process.
I recently took a VP of HR through this process with one of their employees. Same outcome, the employees (20 years tenure with the organization) found a better fit in another organization. The leader had only begun the process with my assistance and the employee self-selected out.
The moral of the story “don’t let sleeping dogs lie”. If you know your organization can use assistance and coaching in this area, I know I can successfully coach your managers to ensure a high performing organization.
Shannon R Rios MS LMFT is an Executive and Leadership Coach that focuses on high performance coaching in organizations and 360 degree feedback with leaders.