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Termination Can Be Best For Everyone

Firing an employee that does not work out can be one of the most difficult things you have to do as a business owner or a manager. We have helped countless Oregon businesses investigate employee misconduct, draft action plans for improvement and terminate employees that do not work out. It is never easy.

After all, we are human. We generally do not like to cause other people pain. Some business people have been known to give positive performance reviews to employees that are having problems. They are not helping the employee or their business. Others keep employees on their payroll long after they realize the employee is not working out. This too is human nature.

Please allow me to share a true story. Several years ago, a client sat in my conference room and told me he wanted to fire Joe (not his real name). He told me all of the problems Joe was causing and even shared with me how much he hated returning to his own business on Monday morning just because he was going to have to deal with Joe. It was clear that Joe had to go.

Like any good lawyer, I asked my client a number of questions. First, "How long has Joe worked for you?"

My client replied "8 years."

The next question was "How long has Joe been a problem?"

"Seven and a half years" was the reply.

"Why," I asked, "didn't you deal with Joe sooner?"

My client very solemnly replied, "I thought he would sue me."

We successfully fired Joe and there was no lawsuit. Unfortunately, however, for seven and a half years, this business owner, his business and Joe were stuck in a situation that did not work. What was the cost in lost opportunities for everyone involved? How much did the business lose because they had the wrong person in the wrong job?

Harvey McKay, the owner of McKay Envelope and the author of best selling business books such as "How to Swim With the Sharks Without Getting Eaten" wrote that it is not the employees you fire that will cause problems, instead it is the employees that you should fire but don't.

Jack Welch, the legendary and now retired chairman of General Electric stated that if an employee is not working out, you are not doing the employee a favor by continuing their employment. Instead, you are delaying that person from finding a job that is a better fit.

If you have an employee that is not working out, do something about it. Counsel the employee on what it will take to meet your expectations. If that doesn't work, it is best for you, your business, your other employees and the problem employee that you part ways in a compassionate manner. If the employee is not working out, free them so that they may find the right job for them.

If you would like more suggestions on investigating employee misconduct, developing work plans for employees with problems or terminating employees that do not work out, please do not hesitate to give me a call.

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