How to Ax an Underperformed Employee Effectively?

Terminating an employee is one of the hardest tasks of being a manager.

Often, termination is a last resort after all the measures have been taken and failed.

Once in a while, you will find that you have to terminate an employee by looking at the best interest of the organization.

If the employees are not meeting their targets, are underperforming, or are difficult to work with, they need to be let go.

However, before we look at how to effectively terminate an employee, let’s look at some of the measures you can take before resorting to termination.


Find out the reason for underperformance

You can talk to the employee and find out the reason for their underperformance.

They could be having a problem at home, or with their health and maybe there is a way you can help as an employer.

If their underperformance is work-related, such as not being skilled enough, you can provide training, coaching, and support to help the employee with the work.

After taking such measures, observe if there are any improvements to the employee’s performance.

Place them in different positions for different roles

It is possible that an employee can be underperforming in one area but they are really good in other areas.

Find out what the employee’s strengths are and find if you can place them in a position where they are good at.

For example, an employee may be underperforming as a customer agent due to their personality, and yet they are really good at data analysis.

In this case, you can try to change them to a different position and see how well they can perform.

If training, support, talking to employees and all measures have failed, you may resort to termination for the sake of the company.


Document the employee performance

If you are terminating an employee on the basis of performance, ensure that you document supporting information about the employee’s performance.

This gives you a basis for supporting your decisions to the employee and legally should it be required.

Pinpoint this information to the employee and why you have let them go.

They are likely to cause fewer problems when they understand that your reasons are objective.

Seek another opinion

If even if you have decided to terminate a particular employee, seek the opinion of a fellow manager, a boss, or a business partner.

This will help you not make brash decisions that may cost the organization in the future.

Seeking an opinion helps ensure that your decisions are objective.

Ensure your reasons of termination are legal

The last thing you need is employees suing your organization for wrongful termination.

Ensure that your reasons for termination are legal.

Have a lawyer or the legal team look at the employee contact if any. Explain your reasons and support them with information.

For example, a disgruntled employee may accuse you of terminating them based on gender, sexuality, race, or disability.

Make sure that you have recorded the reason you are firing them and you can support this should the accusation ever come up.

Remember never to fire an employee as an act of discrimination or for taking medical leave. Check all these reasons with the lawyer and ensure that they hold.

Set up a termination meeting

Set up a meeting with the employee privately.

Consider talking to the employee in private behind closed doors but not humiliating them in front of everyone at the workplace.

Termination is hard for the employees and it is wise to give them come decency as they react to this piece of news.

This privacy also allows the employees to respond, voice their concerns, and for the manager to hear the employee out.

Be firm with your word

While in the termination meeting, be firm with your word and let the employee know that the decision has been made.

This will show them that there is no point of negotiation by supporting the termination with data, you show that this was a well-thought decision.

Ensure that you explain clearly and firmly the reasons for termination and show that there are no grounds for negotiation.

Have a witness

If possible, have a witness in the termination meeting.

If you have a human resource department, ensure the human resource manager is present.

In cases where the organization does not have a human resource department, ensure you have a respectable witness such as a fellow manager, a supervisor, or even a lawyer.

Having a witness, just like in seeking an opinion, helps you ensure you follow protocol and you have legally and ethically let go of an employee.

It also helps protect yourself in the rare case that the employee may get violent.

Inform of any compensation necessary

Ensure that you inform the terminated employee of how they will get their final pay and if there is any compensation coming with the termination.

When you terminate an employee, their first thought may be where they will get their next meal from.

Offering this kind of information helps them take a breather as they plan their next move.

Notify the existing employees

After the employee has been let go, notify the remaining employee about the termination.

This helps them plan on how they will get things done in the absence of the employee before she is replaced.

Further, notifying employees also help reduce speculation about the firing.

Employees may start to get worried that they may be next to be terminated.

Explaining the termination to them helps them understand the reasons and continue with their work peacefully.

Conclusively, there is no easy way to terminate an employee. However, by following the abovementioned steps, you can ensure that the termination is decent, legal, and tolerable for you, the organization, and the employee.

The Destiny Team