LEADERSHIP EXPERT HOLLY LANDAU DISCUSSES SOME COMMON EMPLOYEE ISSUES AND OFFERS ADVICE ON HOW TO OVERCOME THEM AND LEAD YOUR TEAM TO SUCCESS.
This article was excerpted from OPEN Book: Leadership. Find more information and resources from OPEN including a podcast featuring Holly Landau at openforum.com/leadership.
In these economically challenging times, employee engagement is absolutely critical to your company’s success. You manage things like your budget, your time, and your inventory. You lead people. Leaders influence, inspire and motivate others toward success. There are many styles of leadership but the common goal is always the same. Holly Landau offers some guidelines about some of most common employee challenges and suggests ways for business owners to establish, implement and sustain successful employee engagement practices.
How can I soften the blow when firing someone?
There are usually three main reasons why you have to let someone go: poor employee performance, gross misconduct (stealing, workplace violence, etc.), or you’re dissolving their position. Often, business owners are reluctant to deal directly with the issue of firing someone, but there are some specific steps you can take to protect yourself and your company from potential emotional backlash and lawsuits for wrongful discharge.
Poor Performance: If you create a clear set of performance expectations and regularly revisit these expectations, it should be no surprise to an employee that he/she is not meeting them within the scheduled timeframe. Give employees the resources to succeed, but if they don’t, be willing to let them go.
Gross Misconduct: Your guidance and leadership up front might prevent poor behavior, but, ultimately, you can’t control the behavior of others. Try to prevent errors in judgment by modeling positive behavior and clearly state all workplace harassment, violence and safety policies to all new employees, as well as revisiting the topics regularly during team meetings. Be willing to take calm, appropriate action when necessary, and enforce a zero-tolerance policy. If appropriate, briefly explain your firing decision with the remaining members of your team so they understand why you made your decision.
Dissolving the Position: This can be a delicate and emotionally charged issue for many business leaders, especially in these economically sensitive times. You may consider reassigning an employee to another role until the economy improves. Alternatively, some employees might be willing to remain in their current role and take a temporary pay cut (try to offer other forms of compensation like extra time off in this case). However, if after exploring all the options, you decide you have no choice but to lay off employees, make it as painless as possible by providing resources such as a fair severance package, résumé services, job coaches, references, and details of employment agencies. How you terminate an employee is a reflection of your professionalism and your company’s brand, it’s not a time for burning bridges. You never know when you may need to rehire a former employee.
Holly Landau is the CEO of Landau Leadership, a consultancy that provides customized training and development solutions through an intergenerational team of curriculum designers, facilitators and leadership development experts located throughout the US.
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