Rather than informing an employee that he is terminated, consider having a caring and candid conversation.
Planning “The Talk”
Before the conversation, make sure you can honestly say you have provided:
- Clear expectations
- The training and tools necessary for success
- Regular coaching
- Direct performance feedback
Having “The Talk”
In all likelihood, the under-performing employee knows the job isn’t the right fit. Open with a question, such as,
- “From your perspective, what is working well and not working well for you in this role?”
- “Which job tasks are very easy for you, and which do you still struggle with?”
- “What are your thoughts regarding your performance level in each of your core responsibilities”
Then just listen. The employee will probably bring up many areas of under-performance before you need to point them out. Take the opportunity to remind the employee of tools, training and the coaching already provided. Kindly put forward your belief that additional training is not likely to improve performance to the level needed for the role.
At this point, share with the employee two possible scenarios.
- Scenario 1: Jointly work out a short transition period (no more than one month). The employee can look for a different job while you work on re-staffing the position.
- Scenario 2: Provide a short time for performance to improve (if the employee believes performance can and will approve significantly).
Set the expectation that you will schedule a meeting in 2-3 days to discuss further.
Close the meeting by offering the employee the option to stay in the room for a while to process, or the option to go home for the day if he doesn’t feel able to return to work.
After “The Talk”
Schedule a follow up meeting 2-3 days after “The Talk”.
If scenario 1 is chosen, work out the details of the transition plan and expectations of both the employee and employer during the transition period. If scenario 2 is chosen, present a Performance Improvement Plan with specific expectations, timeliness and measures of success.
This is still a very tough talk and there may be tears, yet it respects and honors the person behind the performance.
While this approach doesn’t work with every employee, but most professionals will appreciate your honesty and the opportunity to have a voice in their (probable) transition out of the organization.