Healthcare Training: Make the Firing Process Painless

One of the biggest problems with firing for the manager is the emotional type. We blame the law. “Oh, we can't do it because of the law.” No. That's usually not the case. You use that to avoid the conversations. You don’t want to deal with the confrontation emotionally. Discover the secrets to painless firing with these expert tips given by our expert in one of the management audio conferences.

So the law is not it. You take it personally. This will be taken food off their family’s plates. But look, the burden of proof is heavily on you. So, you are going to build, as you see this kind of stair step for two reasons. One, if you are challenged, you can show to the outsider, judges, juries, arbitrators. Did you give them a reasonable chance to save their job?

They're smoking in the dynamite factory. You are not going to give them 90 days and three little warnings to clean up their act. But, you know, if they've been working for you for 12 years and someone comes in late one day, am you going to fire him? No. Reasonable chance to save their job. So that if the outsider challenges and says, “Oh, this is age or sex or race.” No. The documentation shows. You gave her a reasonable chance to save her job. You gave her her job.

Some companies call this progressive discipline, incremental discipline, job in jeopardy, discipline without punishment. But the idea is to say to the employee here, “Here's your job. It's up to you to decide. You can quit, you can become productive, you can behave, you can fire yourself. I'm not going to do this to you. It's up to you to decide.”

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The biggest problem typically is not so much the stair steps but the documentation. You see there, documentation to stand up on its own, it's got to be signed or initialed or witnessed. Signed or initialed or witnessed by you, owner, manager, supervisor and the employee.

If the employee doesn’t sign, it didn’t happen. “Well, what if the employee refuses to sign?” Good question. Get a witness. If you've got HR, that's great. You know, their supervisor, co-owner, manager, partner, someone at my level or above as neutral a party as we can find, witnessing the fact, you communicate the information and the employee refuse to sign.

Do you need their full name in the proper little blank? No. Is this proof you communicated? Yes. This will work as long as you don’t laugh. If you laugh, you've blown the deal.

HR people have been screaming about documentation for decades. And the good news is they're right. If you look at these cases at the agency level, EEOC of state level, you see at that level that one of the biggest stumbling blocks, what causes the company the case is the documentation.

Yet another technique. You know, sometimes like at the bottom of the stair steps, you’d see little boxes. Agree, disagree. “Well, I disagree with this thing.” And they start marking all over it. Do we care? Well yeah, we do.

You build documentation to salvage. You do not build documentation to fire. The outsider is going to ask, “Was your intent to get rid of X? “Oh, no.” “Then you’d be willing to rehire X?” “Oh, no.” Well, did you really give her her job or you intent on firing her no matter what?

If you've already determined that you're going to fire someone, are you  going to waste a whole lot of time building the documentation? No, you may just fire at-will and take my chances.

Many experts have mentioned this in a lot of audio conferences and other management events that You build documentation to salvage. That's why it's critical as supervisors you catch this early. Don’t go screaming in the HR when you want to jump to the second floor. When you start to sense a problem, you deal with it early so that you can salvage.

One other technique, option for you, as you are going through this, not early in the stair step but late, very late in the stair step. We see now what's called a decision-making leave. “X, you're expectations, performance, behavior and ours aren’t matching. We're going to give you Monday off with pay. Think about your job. Come back to me first thing Tuesday morning. Be willing at that time to commit whether or not you want to continue an employment here.”

She comes back Tuesday morning, she quits. You cut her a check, she's gone. She comes back, she says, “No. I want to save my job.” You then get a commitment in writing future expectations, performance, behavior. With stipulation, mess up again, reasonable period of time, out of here.

Two months later, she messes up. “Oh, dear. Am I going to build more documentation?” No, she's out. She challenges you She sues. The outsider -- judge, jury arbitrator says, “Did you give her a reasonable chance to save her job?” “Reasonable? Reasonable? I gave her a paid day-off to think about her job.”

Talk about reasonable. And how's that play in court? People go to court with that, how's does that play? What's the jury say? “Oh, gees. No boss ever paid me to think before.” Your goal is to salvage if you can. You really want to turn this over to the employee and hope that you can do that. In good times, this is important. In uncertain times, this is critical. If you fire some of the people that may, should have been fired years ago, this may avoid a production enforced for downsizing. Again, no telling what’ll happen in this for many of us. But whether it's good times or bad times, problem people are problem people. And you've got to deal with it.

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