May 11 2017 - Nobody looks forward to dismissing an employee. It can be
one of the hardest things for a manager to do. It can potentially cause disruption
and unease among your other employees and it can be traumatic for the staff member you are letting go. Sometimes, however, when all other avenues have failed, it is necessary
to say goodbye to underperforming employees in order to optimise business efficiency.
With the right training and processes at hand,
dismissing staff can be relatively smooth and painless. Done wrong, however, and companies may face unfair dismissal
claims and serious financial payouts.
Below are the five biggest HR mistakes companies make - and should avoid - when it comes to managing underperformance and dismissing staff.
1. Not giving employees a chance to improve their performance
The recruitment process is expensive; it takes a long time
to train an employee up to full productivity. For these reasons and many others, before considering
dismissal, manager and employee should get together to address the root cause of their underperformance or misconduct. They should also lay out a clear, precise, time-sensitive
plan to get performance back on track.
Employees can underperform for a number of reasons. A large part of
managing underperformance is pinpointing the cause of it and exploring avenues to resolve it.
Perhaps the employee is having problems at home, are suffering from depression or they aren't clear on their work goals. Their lack of adequate performance might even be due to
inefficient workplace processes.
Get together with your employee and draw up a plan for improvement. Explain the situation, how important their role is to the smooth running of the company and how
their performance impacts the business. Every possible reasonable step should be taken to get the employee up to speed. Otherwise, the staff member isn't being afforded the support
2. Not being clear about the consequences of underperformance
Employees must never feel like a dismissal has just been sprung on them. Manager and employee should have a number of meetings before the employee is ultimately
dismissed. Ambushing an employee won't play well in an employment tribunal and this type of behaviour will cause your company to develop an unfavourable reputation.
Prior to dismissal, the manager should make it clear what sanctions will be taken if the specified situation is not remedied. The employee should be given sufficient
time and relevant support to make things right. If nothing constructive is done, or the employee doesn't appear inclined to resolve the matter, they shouldn't be surprised when
they are dismissed.
3. Not documenting the disciplinary process
Employers should never take a lax attitude towards dismissals. At every stage, documents should be recorded of relevant employee reviews and performance discussions.
Take note of what has been said, what is expected and action points to be taken by each party. The current legal advice is to
have a notetaker present at each meeting to keep a
written record of the proceedings. If you are required to demonstrate evidence during an employment tribunal and you don't have the appropriate documentation to support the
reasons for termination, your company will end up paying the price.
4. Offering an employee the chance to resign
A lot of companies think the decent thing to do is to offer an employee the opportunity to resign before dismissing them. Though this approach isn't always
problematic, it can sometimes
backfire and cause legal issues. The employee might
feel 'forced' to resign, giving them cause for unfair dismissal due to a 'breach of trust
and confidence'. Employers are better off sticking to their guns and, assuming all legal steps have been adhered to, simply dismissing the employee in question.
5. Not considering disability
If your employee is disabled and their misconduct or underperformance is somehow connected to their disability, this needs to be taken into account when it comes
to disciplinary action. Employers must also consider whether the misconduct or underperformance is connected to someone they are caring for. If either of these situations are
true, companies need to make reasonable adjustments, or risk falling foul of
disability discrimination laws.
There is an abundance of information online regarding how to appropriately manage underperformance and dismiss staff. The resources you find will talk you through
the process step by step. Ultimately, however, it benefits companies to develop a company culture that promotes employee engagement, motivation and encouragement. Show your
employees that you care about them, you're invested in them and you are there to help them succeed.