How to Terminate an Employee (Part 1)

Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

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Dear Readers,

In teaching a recurring series on effective coaching and my graduate class on managerial skills, the topic of coaching versus performance management comes up a lot. These are two different skills and approaches in working with team members. This article will address the best practices when an employee is not making a transition and you are losing faith that the person will be able to do what’s needed in the role.

Before moving to performance management, it is important to employ coaching strategies:

1. Coaching is important and necessary, but it is best used when you are still hopeful the team member is going to be able to make their shift. Coaching, when done well, involves both negative constructive feedback – i.e., noting the areas someone needs to change and the specific steps they need to take to do so, and positive constructive feedback – reinforcing strengths and good behaviors when team members do things right.

2. Coaching should involve a plan of action – the what, when, how and outcomes you expect from the team member. Ideally the team member is an active partner in creating this plan. When you have worked with someone for a while and they are not making any changes, or appearing to care or put in effort, then it is time for performance management.

When embarking upon a performance management process, be fair to your employee and consider any legal ramifications. Take the necessary steps to protect your firm.