Lively conversations in the CAI classroom are an everyday occurrence. One such topic involves the relationship between employees,managers and performance, particularly when it comes to termination . One common refrain is that managers feel "restrained" by Human Resources when it comes to letting non-productive employees go. One of the prevalent misconceptions is that HR is an obstruction to relieving the company of poor performing employees. HR professionals in the classroom often try to explain to their colleagues what is really going on.
For instance, managers often become disappointed with an employee's job performance or behavior. Some do a good job of providing feedback to the employee, while others become increasingly annoyed, but say nothing. The tension reaches a breaking point and the manager goes to HR with the demand that the employee be terminated immediately. The HR manager asks for documentation that may not exist. Because his/her job is to protect the organization, the HR manager does not permit immediate dismissal. Managers are frustrated and state that HR won't "let" them terminate poor performers.
It's up to us as HR professionals to educate our line managers on the actions that need to be taken in documenting performance.
- First, managers must take the time to regularly coach their employees, which means providing feedback on performance and asking employees what they believe will help them improve their work. Action plans need to be implemented by the employee and monitored for progress by the manager.
- Next, if coaching does not improve the deficit in performance, the employee may be put on a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) that includes a statement of the performance problem, the expectation for acceptable performance, the actions to be taken by the employee and a time-frame for achieving satisfactory results.
- If the issue is unacceptable behavior, progressive discipline may be warranted. The steps involved may include a verbal warning to the employee (documented by the manager in his or her calendar or e-mail), followed by a written warning to the employee (documented by the manager by placing a copy into the employee's file). If the unacceptable behavior continues, a suspension without pay may be dealt to the employee. Finally, if no progress is observed, a termination of employment may follow.
- The most critical action a manager can take is to alert HR to the situation early and seek its guidance. If appropriate steps are taken and documented correctly, HR will support the manager's efforts.
For assistance, please contact CAI's Advice and Resolution Team by phone or chat 24 hours a day.