While this is never a fun topic to address at some point as a business owner you may have to dismiss an employee from your office. If not done properly termination of an employee can become a huge liability issue. Here are some general guidelines in addressing employees, giving them the opportunity for turn around, and ultimately how to terminate when necessary. Labor laws vary state to state so know your local laws and get with a labor attorney with any specific questions.
Give the opportunity for turn around.
By giving your employee the chance to turn their behavior around they have the opportunity to learn from it and grow. This means sitting down to talk to them and being very upfront about what is not working and then sharing what you expect. When sharing your expectations I have found using the verbiage of “these are the changes I expect to see… if you have not done this you will have fired yourself” to be extremely helpful. The psychology behind this is passing the ownership back to the employee so they can choose to remedy the situation. You are clearly handing them the opportunity to get out of hot water, keep their job, and take ownership of their actions. Documentation is key here especially if an unemployment claim gets filed by your former employee. Be sure to document in writing what has occurred, what behavior needs to change, and have the employee sign it. Then schedule a follow up meeting in 30 days or less to re-evaluate. This is important ensuring you have a follow up plan and your employee has certainty as to what is going on and understanding that the behavior will not be swept under the rug. If on day 3 of 30 days the behavior doesn’t change then it is time to terminate.
However, if they are doing well in 30 days then set another review in 90 days. Make sure that the behavior you identify and discuss is measurable behavior. Examples such as: you aren’t perio probing, you aren’t collecting payment from patients, you’re not asking, you’re not doing…. Give them behavioral things. The biggest mistake that can be made is when you start talking about the person as different classifications of employees have protected classes. Great resource for employees is the show How Not to Get Fired.
When termination is appropriate there are a few things you will want to do. Have someone else in the room as a witness, keep it short and sweet (no more than 2-5 minutes) but keep it humane- you are freeing up this person’s future so they can go elsewhere and be happier. Ensure this is a conversation that is very controlled and succinct. We have heard horror stories about employees bringing their spouses or attorneys in with them- do not let this occur in your office. I’m going to terminate your employment effective immediately. Then ask them to get their things, return company property such as keys to the office (or perhaps have locks re-keyed), and escort them out. Again, ensure you document what occurred and have the employee sign it.
If this is a challenging area for you reach out to your coach. We are well versed in how to help you prepare. I have found that the hardest part of this is the psychology where an employee has become part of your work family maybe even been there longer than you have owned the practice. If they are good people who just aren’t a good fit I have gone so far as to find a new job for them. So if appropriate and possible give them the dignity of helping them find a new job. On the flip side there are times employees will not react well to what has just occurred. They may cry, yell, or say vicious things to you that hurts your heart.
That’s where the psychology of this comes in where you have to be very clear about what it is you want. In having clarity about your goals for your organization and the certainty of how to meet them you can stand firm. If you have one person who is holding your business back take into consideration how this is also affecting your other employees. That one person is dragging the team down with them while hurting you organization and others who may be performing at a high level and deserve to be recognized. Therefore by letting this person go, while it is difficult, it may be wonderful for your other employees. Have the intestinal fortitude to have the difficult conversations and get through this.