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To terminate, or not to terminate, that is the question

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That’s it, you’ve had it, Jason is just not cutting it.
To terminate, or not to terminate, that is the question

You have now heard it from several people that he is not getting the work done and the whole team knows it. Not only does the team know it, but other people on the team have started to cover up for him and even doing some of his work, because it needs to get done.

You have known Jason for years, he has a young family, he's smart, a nice guy and you've met his wife at the annual Christmas party. All the signs point to the fact that you will have to let him go, but you are just not sure.

Ending an employee relationship is one of the hardest decisions you will make as a leader. It is not just an employee you are letting go, but the family they are trying to support. A project could be behind schedule or in financial distress, but the thought of having to deal with a possible termination is what keeps you up at night.

How do you really know that it's time to let someone go?

As an employer, you hired this person in good faith, perhaps from a competitor, and at the time of hiring he or she fit the bill based on their experience, skills, and knowledge.

The first question to ask yourself is "are the issues being brought to your attention new?"

You remember Jason being a good performer and received positive feedback when he started. A good place to reference for more insight is any performance reviews that Jason may have had.

What do these tell you? Is there a trend, any consistency, a mention here or there of something not getting done or are they all glowing with no sign of any issues. Could his recent performance be due to other factors affecting his performance — personal or otherwise?

The next question would be "has anyone addressed their concerns with Jason directly?"

You need to determine if anyone has had an honest conversation with him about his performance and what changes are required to get him back on track? Many times, this is the conversation people are avoiding. The hope is there have been enough "signs" for him to realize that he is not meeting expectations.

This passive approach often leads to further alienation of the employee, disengagement and more performance-related issues.

Employees must be clearly told what is expected of them, understand where they may be falling short, and given an opportunity and support to improve. Most times an effective conversation with an employee will help both you and them determine the best course of action.

The final area to explore is the grey area of personality dynamics. Is it that Jason doesn't get along with his boss or members of the team?

This seems like a simple problem, but it is often the most difficult one to address. Construction teams are like mini-companies, each with their own culture, leadership style and team dynamics.

Providing tools and techniques for the people on the team to learn about themselves and to how to work together effectively, is often a great place to start and a way to intercept any potential personality clashes early. These tools can also help in diagnosing potential areas of conflict and providing solutions to diffusing them.

Whenever the question of a termination comes up, I always think about what each side may have done to get to this point, and what the employer should do to ensure that the decision they make is the right one.

The employer-employee relationship is a two way street, employees have the obligation to use their knowledge and skills for the betterment of the company and employers have an obligation to provide employees with the opportunities and support to flourish.

Monica Darroch, C.H.R.P. is the principal at HR-MD and a strategic human resources professional with over 15 years management experience in construction, technology and financial services. Visit www.hr-md.cato learn more.

To send comments about this column or to propose an Industry Perspectives column please email editor@dailycommercialnews.com

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