Have you ever been somewhere and seen a face, a spark of recognition of “oh, I know that person”. Then the brain starts to whir and move into “yes, it is whatshisname”, then the sinking feeling of “Oh, no…. I sacked him”. By then you have made eye contact and you have two choices – avoid or chat.
For those of you that know me, you will know that I chose to have a chat. So, at a soft play party this weekend, I found out what had happened in the last 8 years to this nice gentleman. And, I also reflected on why it is good to let people go.
A dismissal is not normally a nice experience for all of the parties involved. HR practitioners do not delight in the anguish of a disciplinary, or the “how will I pay my bills?” conversation that can result from someone losing their job. Not all managers are mean and look forward to sacking people either.
And, because it isn’t a very nice thing to do, I know of lots of managers that have avoided disciplinaries and even informal types of performance management. It goes in the “too hard” box. Or worse, they knee jerk into dismissing someone after lots of tolerated and undiscussed issues with behaviour or performance. (That doesn’t normally work out well!)
However, discipline done properly is so very important at work.
Discipline lets people know what acceptable, or unacceptable, behaviour is. It lets people know what standards are expected. Without discipline, it gives a message to all your workers that poor performance is tolerated and that in turn signals that their hard work and effort is not appreciated. Morale goes down and so does productivity.
In this gentlemen’s case, he was underperforming because he was miserable. He was in a job he didn’t enjoy, yet didn’t know what to do to better his situation. His termination of employment was the best thing that could have happened for him. He got training in another field, became qualified and is now successfully self-employed doing something that he loves.
He isn’t the only one. I’m sure we all know of people who have succeeded in new ventures when one door has closed on them.
So, as managers, I urge you to think carefully about how you approach poor performance in your business. Have a policy and procedure in place, that is fair, to tackle these people issues and make sure that you follow it. Don’t shy away from those difficult conversations and meetings.
Sometimes letting people go is the best thing that you can do, not only for your business, but for them as well.
The ACAS Guide to Discipline and Grievance is a great place to start if you want to make sure your practices are fair and legal.
How we can help.
If you are having people issues in your business then give us a call we can help you take a step back from the issue and prepare an action plan to address any gaps you may have in your people strategy.