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Do You Fire The Person or The Behavior?

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Firing an employee should be one of the hardest things a manager or leader has to do in an organization.  The process and the attitude that is maintained towards this person is critical to how they cope with a termination.  It is not just simply pressing a button.

When companies state that their employees come first, I would bet that this only counts for those that are employed not the ones being terminated.  Once the mark has been placed on the employee's back, they become second rate.

Instead of firing the person we should be firing the behavior.  If you have been the person fired (which I have), there is a big difference when the focus is on behavior and not the person.  Focusing on the person is destructive, confusing, and typically based on hearsay and rumors.  Focusing on the behavior requires specific examples and data that occur over time.

If you are believer in McGregor's Theory Y, then your belief in the "good of people" supports focusing on behavior. 

The example - the person that continues to have an attendance problem.  Does this make them a bad person - absolutely not!  They are engaging, when they are there they do a good job, they are smart - they just have a problem with attendance.  The termination process gives them ample opportunity to change the behavior.  When the final conversation is conducted it is now about attendance behavior, not that they are a bad employee or person.  When they walk out the door, they are mad at themselves and not the company for what has happened.

Give this some thought and then think about changing the behavior of your company's termination process.

Flickr photo by dadadreams

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