“Sometimes we stare so long at a door that is closing that we see too late the one that is open.”
~ Alexander Graham Bell ~
Letting an employee go is not a task to be taken lightly. If done in the wrong way, there can be unpleasant and long-lasting complications. This can include everything from expressions of unhappiness and stress from remaining employees to dealing with a negative reputation for the company, and even legal ramifications.
Don’t Be the Villain
In today’s world, disgruntled employees and former employees can easily spread the word about a company and what an employee considers to be unfair practices. This can result in a company that once appeared stellar suddenly looking like a villain in the eyes of hundreds or even thousands of online readers.
In many instances, the only way to repair this type of damage is with the help of online reputation management professionals like those at Reputation.com. Obviously, rather than dealing with such a frustrating situation at all, it is much wiser to let employees go in a way that will be as painless as possible for everyone concerned.
Who Needs to Know?
Letting an employee go is a very delicate subject. After all, the employee has a lot riding on that decision.
From the time the decision to let an employee go to the time the employee is actually told about the decision, privacy is top priority.
When it is decided that an employee should be let go, the decision should be kept quiet. To eliminate concerns about gossip or discussions about the decision, only the employee’s direct supervisors should be told about the decision in advance.
Clearly, the employee should be told about the decision in a private setting. Ideally it should be done in the manager’s office, and the door should be shut. The next best option is in a neutral setting that offers privacy, such as a break room or conference room.
Until recently, it was accepted practice that separations be handled at the end of the day on Friday. However, that has recently changed. Nowadays it is becoming increasingly common to deliver such news earlier in the day, or even earlier in the week.
Rationales for this include the fact that if the employee finds out about the separation earlier in the week, he/she can immediately begin a job search. Plus, a separation at the end of the day on Friday could leave the employee with no choice but to sit around all weekend worrying about his/her situation.
This can result in increased stress and anxiety. In some cases, anger can build or the individual can become extremely distraught.
Professionalism with a Personal Touch
Being let go from a company hurts. Employees in this position deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. A manager should take the time to explain the reason for the decision. If employees feel they are treated unfairly – as in, they are let go without cause – the company’s reputation may be at risk.
It is common for the employee to have questions. The manager should answer those to the best of his/her ability. These questions may relate to things like severance pay, any 401K plans, insurance, COBRA, retirement, or other benefits/compensation offered by the company.
Offering parting resources such as information about unemployment, job training, employment counseling, and local small business development organizations can be especially helpful at this stressful time.
Being let go is upsetting. It’s emotionally disturbing, to say the least. Many people appreciate having a chance to vent after such a traumatic event. Exit interviews provide that opportunity. In some cases, the tools provided during these interviews can help people find closure after a job separation.
Debbie Allen, founder of TheThingsWomenWant.com, is a professional writer and blogger who specializes in topics of interest to women and online marketing strategies.
Talkback: What are your experiences with letting employees go? Do you typically handle separations early in the week, or do you wait until Friday? Have you ever thought about creating a termination resource packet to be used when handling separations?
Image courtesy of iQoncept / Fotolia.com
“The more credit you give away, the more will come back to you. The more you help others, the more they will want to help you.”
~ Brian Tracy ~
Although Alberto was young, his fast learning skills and sharp thinking abilities helped him advance to the role of team leader quickly. However, when it came to proposing new ideas to upper management, Alberto was reluctant. He wasn’t sure if his ideas were “good enough.”
He turned to one of the senior colleagues on his team to get feedback on some of the things he was working on and was quite taken aback when the co-worker he’d confided in pitched some of his ideas at the next company meeting without giving Alberto any credit for his work. Alberto’s ideas were not only well received, but one of them actually got the green light to get implemented.
Overcome with frustration, Alberto’s sharp mind got thinking again. Here are three steps he took that you can use to deal with people who take credit for your work:
- Play nice. You might feel like “telling” on your colleague and ranting to your boss, but like Alberto, without any documented proof, you’re better off taking the experience as a hard-learned lesson. Continue to be courteous to the co-worker who took credit for your work, but don’t get complacent. Start brewing up fresh ideas and look for new ways to increase your visibility.
- Document everything. When sending out emails, copy people directly involved with the project regarding project updates, ideas, deadlines, and more. Be careful not to overdo this; you don’t want to flood inboxes or annoy people. Alberto added his own signature and copied his boss on project updates or timelines he emailed out to the team. He only copied senior managers on ideas he felt were critically important and deserved their attention.
- Have a mentor you can trust. Building positive relationships at work is critical. However, if you go a step further and build a strong connection with someone you can trust, preferably up the ranks, it can help you immensely. Alberto befriended a senior executive who served as the lead on one of his projects. Always being respectful of his mentor’s time, Alberto bounced ideas off him and elicited his advice before presenting ideas to his own bosses and team.
Alberto learned a valuable lesson from someone taking credit for his work. He learned that it’s his responsibility to get out there, share his ideas, and gain visibility. There’s no gain without risk. He also learned how important it is to create a credit-sharing culture in the work environment and give recognition and praise where it’s due.
If you find yourself constantly being over-looked at work, perhaps you need to start looking out for ways to gain visibility, enhance your perception, and build influence. Getting Ahead will help you get noticed and take your career to the next level.
Talkback: Did you see your co-worker get a pat on the back for an idea that you came up with? Is your boss taking credit for work you’ve done? Tell us about it below.
“Accomplishing the impossible means only that the boss will add it to your regular duties.”
~ Doug Larson ~
David Asks: I have a manager who is always getting on everyone’s case over everything. He has even yelled at employees in front of customers. How do I deal with this situation, other than trying to stay out of his way?
Joel Answers: There is a wide variety in leadership styles between different bosses or even companies, but it is never appropriate for a manager to publicly humiliate an employee. It’s hard to enjoy your work when you’re worried about setting your boss off on a rampage. Here are some things you can do to improve your situation at work:
- Build relationships with other managers within the company. Start preparing for a lateral—or even vertical—move within the company. Work on making yourself well-known outside of your department so that you will be more likely to be considered when a position opens up elsewhere in the company.
- Remember that your boss is human. If your boss’s recent behavior is uncharacteristic of how he normally acts, consider the possibility that he may be going through something personally that is beyond his capability to deal with at the moment. Try to be understanding and express empathy in a nonthreatening way. For example, you might say, “You seem a little stressed out today. Is there anything I can do to help?”
- Stand up for yourself calmly but firmly. Just because your boss is a jerk doesn’t mean you have to let him get away with inappropriate behavior. If you feel you have been wrongly reprimanded, calmly but firmly explain why you acted the way you did.
- Report your boss. Complaining about your boss’s bad behavior to human resources is always an option, but tread carefully. It could make your life at the company more difficult. However, even if it does, your complaint will go on record and make it easier for the next person who has the courage to speak up.
If the situation doesn’t improve and you are unable to transfer to another department, you may want to consider looking for employment elsewhere. Remaining in a hostile work environment with a bad boss adds stress to your life that can detract from your overall happiness and fulfillment, not just with your career, but in other areas as well. You can eliminate that stress by finding a more satisfying position.
Are you struggling to get ahead at work? Garfinkle Executive Coaching can help you develop strong executive presence, get the attention you deserve for your work, and get the promotion you’ve always dreamed of.
Talkback: Have you ever had a bad experience with a boss? Tell us about it in the comments! Or ask a question you’d like Joel to answer in a future column.
“Businesses often forget about the culture, and ultimately, they suffer for it because you can’t deliver good service from unhappy employees.”
~ Tony Hsieh ~
Do you get the feeling that your boss favors another colleague over you? Well, you’re not alone. Preferential treatment is a pressing topic in the work environment today.
I was recently interviewed by Ruth Mantell, a Washington-based MarketWatch reporter, about preferential treatment in the workplace, which by the way is something that employees report dealing with daily at work.
So is this really a key issue to be concerned about?
Well, let’s take a look at the facts. According to research conducted by Corporate Executive Board, that form of employee misconduct that employees complain about most is preferential treatment, so it quite rightly demands our attention.
Preferential treatment is not always easy to detect but at times it can be obvious. Either way, the key is to understand how to deal with the issue in the first place. As an employee, it is essential NOT to get angry or resentful, although I realize that built-up frustration might lead to that reaction. This is your chance to convert this experience from positive to negative and really look deeper and evaluate your position in the company. This might also be the right time to stop hiding your accomplishments and take credit for your work.
If you are the boss or team lead and have been confronted with this issue by an employee, maybe it is time to refocus your attention on team building and strengthening intrapersonal relationships within the workplace.
One key factor you must consider is that not all type of preferential treatment is bad if you look at the bigger picture. If your boss lets an employee leave early, maybe they promised to work on the weekend. In any case, if you feel neglected don’t feel shy to discuss the issue with your boss or get an advocate with influence who appreciates your work to do it for you.
Are you a victim of preferential treatment? Or are you in a leadership role wanting to understand your employees’ point of view? Either way I strongly encourage you to read the full interview here: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/a-co-worker-is-the-bosss-pet-heres-how-to-deal-2011-11-07
Read my book, Getting Ahead, to find out how you can be the favored employee whose career is on the fast track straight to the top.
Photo by PatrickSeabird on Flickr.