One of the hardest things a manager has to do is to confront an underperforming employee. In fact, too many managers will avoid these kinds of situations and let it drag on. This can cause resentment from employees that perform, who have to take up the slack, which affects the overall performance of the team.
You can always fire an underperforming employee. However, it may not be the only option you have. Another option to firing an employee is to let them go, but help them grow as well. You may consider the choice of coaching them to quit.
Coach an Employee to Quit
To clarify this concept, it isn't about making conditions so miserable that the employee chooses to leave on their own. This is humiliating for the employee and develops toxicity in the workplace that is hard to purge. Additionally, it does not help a person to realize their short-comings nor give them an attempt to work on them.
A business and an employee are partners, in that they both have something the other needs. Both need to contribute for there to be an effective partnership. Sometimes, people fail to realize that they are not contributing. They will continue to work in a position that they do not enjoy or have lost interest in, simply because they need the work. While this is understandable, it does not benefit the business.
Coaching someone out of a job is a way of helping an employee understand that it’s in their best interest to leave voluntarily. This approach can give them another opportunity to be successful. It gives them the option to find another role, without the stigma of being fired, that’s a better fit for their skills and talents.
This approach isn't the best option for every situation. It shouldn’t be used for flagrant violations of company policy (i.e., theft, violence, cheating, etc.). Coaching should be used as an alternative for firing an employee who has potential elsewhere.
The steps required to coach an employee out of a job are very similar to the steps required to have a disciplinary discussion. You still need to gather evidence, document the poor performance, and be prepared to give examples for a strong case to convince the employee to move on.
Talk to Human Resources (HR)
You'll want to inform HR if you have one. Letting them know what you are planning is important. They can begin preparations for a new hire, and you may need some guidance to ensure you're not breaking any laws or breaching contracts. If you do not have an HR, you may want to consider talking to a consultant if you do not feel confident you know the laws and procedures.
If you can’t convince the employee to leave on their own, then you’ll need to prepare to fire them.
Describe the Expectations and Performance
If you have not addressed the issue with the employee before, then you should take steps to address the issues before considering other options. Start the discussion by laying out the performance expectations and standards, and explain how the employee is not meeting those expectations. Once you have done that you could outline a plan of action for them to take.
Give the employee some options:
- They could resign now, or in the near future (after having a couple of days to think about it)
- They could look for another position. The amount of time you give an employee to do this depends on many factors, including the length of service, the attitude of the employee, and the strength of the relationship. Whatever you decide, it’s important to establish a deadline, and let them know you still expect them to work until the deadline is up
- If they choose not to resign or look for another position, you should let them know you have no choice but to begin the disciplinary process immediately
Firing an employee is difficult when there is a family depending on them. This method provides an employee that doesn't fit anymore a chance to improve their situation and not affect their family. The manager or owner, in turn, knows that they are doing everything they can for the person and their family.
It is important for an owner to feel this way because firing someone can lead a family to lose the only source of income it has. This could possibly cause guilt for the person doing the firing. If you have done everything you can, then you should not feel any remorse when letting someone go.