At the company where I work, Manpower Staffing in San Diego, we hardly ever fire staff members. We have no reason to do so.
It’s not that we have an absolutely perfect hiring record. No company could honestly make such a claim. But we have earned an exceptional reputation in the staffing market based on our record of staffing to fit our clients’ needs. We have the same exceptional record with our own staff.
We’re diligent about selecting people that we ask to join our company. After we make a hire, we insist that our workplace standards be followed — led by a positive attitude, respect for others and a high level of both effort and performance.
It’s rare, but every once in a while, we are forced to part ways with a staff person. It happens for all the predicable reasons, such as making too many poor staffing choices, a lack of effort or low performance results.
In adhering to our personnel guidelines, we always insist that no staff person at our company should ever be surprised when they are let go. Long ago, we instituted a review process for determining whether an employee is meeting our standards.
Although I agree with the adage that companies should be “slow to hire and fast to fire,” the organization believes in giving every employee the benefit of the doubt — and the opportunity to learn their shortcomings and what they, and we, can do about changing them.
Meeting face-to-face with the employee
Though never a pleasant task, that process starts with meeting face-to-face with the employee in question, a stage we call a “verbal warning,” even though it’s also written.
At that meeting, we first listen to them. This is about hearing how they are feeling about the job, their attitude and their productivity. Do they understand the expectations of the job? Are they aware of where they are missing the mark?
What’s more, are there issues in their lives that we need to be aware of, and be as flexible and supportive as we can?
Then, we review a specific list of what has to change, why and by when. Most important, we ask this question: Are you willing to put the work needed to meet our expectations?
If the answer is an enthusiastic “yes,” then we move forward.
If their answer is “no,” then we offer to shake hands and part amicably. We tell the employee that for the good of their long-term career, please quit us, don’t make us fire you. The burden of being fired from a job for underperformance follows you for a long time.
We tell them to start looking for a new job now, and that we will begin looking for their replacement now. We encourage them to resign.
But with the enthusiastic “yes” response, which is most common, we set up criteria to make sure enough progress is being made in changing behaviors. We schedule weekly progress meetings to measure hoped-for progress, or lack of same.
If not much has changed for the better, a second and final warning is given with a 30-day notice and a schedule of follow-up meetings. This is our effort to give the employee every chance to acknowledge their shortcomings and work to change.
At this point, the clock is ticking, but there’s still enough time to get back on our good side.
No employee at any company should fear losing a job with no notice. Even if they’re underperforming, they deserve to learn why and how they can improve.
Work for a company that you are proud of, one that treats you fairly and works with you to grow your talents and advance your career. And one that supports and works with you when you’re having difficult times.
This story originally appeared in San Diego Union-Tribune.