Communication Firing Employees

How to Fire an Employee with Less Stress

Having to fire an employee can be an extremely stressful and daunting task for even the seasoned manager.  Even if an employee has been warned about behavior, no one thinks they’ll actually get fired.  In reality, you’d like to drop-kick that employee out of your business, but to keep things fair and legal, may we offer some tips?
Here are a few tips to help a firing situation be fair and less stress to both parties:
1.  ALWAYS Fire an Employee Face to Face. 
Although firing is awkward and uncomfortable, resist the urge to fire someone using a letter, voicemail, email, text or any other kind of method.

When you fire an employee give them the courtesy you would extend to any human being. They deserve a face-to-face meeting.  Nothing else works. The fired employee will remember. and your other employees have even longer memories.


2.  Give the Employee a Warning and DOCUMENT Everything! 

Nothing makes an employee more angry than feeling blind sided when fired. Unless an immediate, egregious act occurs, the employee should experience coaching and performance feedback over time. If you decide the employee is able to improve her performance, provide whatever assistance is needed to encourage and support the employee.

Document each step, especially to protect yourself and your business from possible legal actions. If you are confident the employee can improve, and the employee’s role allows, a performance improvement plan (PIP) may show the employee specific, measurable improvement requirements.

3.  Don’t Fire an Employee Without a Witness

In today’s society, especially in the U.S., anyone can sue anyone for anything (and they do)!  In addition to documentation about the employee’s behavior and work performance, make sure that if you have to fire someone that you have someone else there to witness it.

Take notes of the firing, have a witness sign the termination letter.  A witness will provide needed legal protection, as well as moral support in the event you have to “can” someone.

4.  Make it Short and Sweet

If you have coached and documented an employee’s performance over time and provided frequent feedback, there is no point in rehashing your dissatisfaction when you fire the employee. It accomplishes nothing and is cruel. Yet, every employee will ask you why. So, have an answer prepared that is honest and correctly summarizes the situation without detail or placing blame.

You want the employee to maintain her dignity during an employment termination. So, resist the urge to tell them what a loser they are.  Something tactful you might say is, “We’ve already discussed your performance issues. We are terminating your employment because your performance does not meet the standards we expect from this position. We wish you well in your future endeavors and trust you will locate a position that is a better fit for you.”

5.  Don’t Let them Make off with the Goods (or the Last Word)

When you fire an employee, check and double check that they don’t have any company belongings in their possession.  Make sure company issued cell phones, computers and even vehicles are recovered that day.  Another important consideration is to work with company IT people to make sure the former employee is restricted from having access to the network.  The last thing you need is for a former employee to download and print off sensitive material, lists of clients or other information that you don’t want out in the open.

One final suggestion is to not let the former employee have access to current employees.  Once fired, they need to vacate the premises immediately (or as soon as they can clean out their desk). If the employee wants to send a good-bye note, post her appropriate note for her to all staff.

Terminating employees can be very awkward, but if you take a professional approach, it removes a lot of the awkwardness and doesn’t leave a lot of room for lawsuits.

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Communication Hiring Tips Job Interviews Uncategorized

Saving Time in Interviews

When hiring, you want someone fast.  You need someone fast!  Here are a few tips to save time during interviews.  You’re not cutting corners, just weeding out the less qualified even quicker!

Within a week of posting a job opening, you could have dozens of applications sitting on your desks – maybe even hundreds. How do you find viable candidates without wasting too many hours and resources? Here are some things you can try:

1. Have a concrete list of ranked requirements.

First, you need to have a specific list of requirements. What job experiences do they need to be good at the role you’re hiring them for? How many years of experience are needed? What educational background are you looking for? Also, apart from listing these requirements, arrange them according to priority. This makes it easy for you to decide on the current applications on hand.

2. Conduct an online test for both aptitude and soft skills.

Once you have a list of applicants that meet your requirements, send them to an online test. This could be an aptitude test, or a soft skills test. By seeing who has the scores you need, you can know which applicants would be worth interviewing and which ones to put in your waiting list.

3. Interview applicants with a panel.

When you’re ready to hold interviews, make sure that more than one key person from your organization is present. Include the applicant’s intended supervisor or colleague, so that they can ask specific questions based on their own requirements.

4. Use remote video interviewing.

Rather than wasting hours on inefficient scheduling and walk-in applications, schedule video interviews. This can be more efficient, since you can schedule several interviews in a row without making applicants wait for hours in your lobby. For a preliminary interview, this is more resource-efficient than in-person and even phone interviews.

5. Make sure you have a specific purpose for each interview question.

Don’t just ask random questions – make sure that you also have a list of answers you would like to hear. Otherwise, you run the risk of wasting time asking questions that don’t really add to your knowledge of the applicants skills and capabilities.

By following these 5 steps, your company can have a more efficient application process that’s less time consuming and more cost effective for all parties involved.


Communication Employee Retention Morale

The Number One Trait in a Good Boss

You want to be the best boss.  The legendary boss that your employees talk about on facebook and inspire jealousy among all their friends.

To be the best boss, you must have the number one trait that good bosses have.

That trait is:  R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Just having the title of boss, manager, CEO, or whatever you are, doesn’t alone grant respect from your underlings.  Respect must be earned and in order to do that, you must first respect those that work for you.

Do you know your employees?  Do you care about their personal lives and their family?  When you respect a person, you know them inside and out and show care and concern for them as an individual, not just as a worker.

Another key trait of respect is to never, ever (and I mean, ever) belittle your employees.  Constructive criticism is one thing, but outright belittling and embarrassing is another.  Employees never get over being belittled.

The word belittle is defined as:  to regard or portray as less impressive or important than appearances indicate; depreciate; disparage.

Just remember that even though you are the head honcho, you don’t need to look down your nose at any employee.  If you do, it will come back to bite you.

A final note on respect.  Just because you may have a personal assistant, a six-figure income or a fancier car than your employees, don’t use these as excuses to not keep your feet on the ground.

Always remember what it feels like to work in a cubicle and go about the daily grind.

You will earn respect by rolling up your own sleeves and working right alongside your employees rather than observing your employees from a distance.

Communication Employee Retention Morale Salary

New Year, New Issues

As a business owner, you have to worry about hiring the right person, training the right person, paying the right salary and basically doing everything right, right?!

Even though you may do everything you’re supposed to, there are things that are out of your control.

This year, your employees are going to see less money each paycheck and it’s not the bosses fault.

Everyone’s paycheck is about to take a hit because the rate of workers’ payroll taxes, which fund Social Security, has been 4.2% for the past two years. As of Jan. 1, it’s back to 6.2%, on the first $113,700 in wages.

Some business owners say it’s a tough talk to have with their employees that may not understand that it’s not the bosses fault.

Mike Brey, who owns four Hobby Works shops near Washington, D.C., recently had to notify his store managers about the upcoming change during a conference call. He called the experience uncomfortable. “These are the people who can least afford it,” Brey said.

Brey said he can’t raise compensation to ease the pain. Enduring the recession meant cutting his own salary, firing workers, taking on half a million dollars in debt and raiding his own 401(k).

“Any business that survived the recession did so by digging a big hole,” Brey said. “We can’t dig any deeper.”

Payroll taxes are key for financing Social Security, and the break of the past two years has forced the government to replenish the funds with borrowed money. The tax break was always meant to be temporary.

Workers earning the national average salary of $41,000 will receive $32 less on every biweekly paycheck. The higher the salary (up to $113,700), the bigger the bite, but business owners say their lower wage employees will feel it most.

So, how can you weather this storm?

The key is education. 

As a boss, you need to sit down with your employees and explain in detail what this will mean for their paychecks, why it happened, and what it means going forward.

As captain of the ship, you will still bear the brunt of the responsibility, but that comes with the territory.

The most you can do is to educate, empathize (it affects you too!) and then move on.  If your employees do have concerns, don’t brush them off.  Sometimes every single dollar is accounted for by employees and this could cause some stress and anxiety.

If you continue to educate, train and keep those lines of communication open – your business, and more importantly, your employees, will weather the storm.

Communication Employee Retention Morale Uncategorized

The Annual Review

Many employees look forward to their annual review for one simple reason:  it is a natural vehicle for them to get a raise.

Since the economy has been in a downturn, many employers have actually cancelled annual reviews so they don’t have to pay their employees more and also to avoid any natural discussion of pay increases.

This is not a good practice for many reasons.

First, besides the money issues, the annual review is a key time to give much needed feedback to employees.

If there are problems to be addressed or constructive criticism to be given, the year-end review is a good time to discuss these awkward subjects.

Employees thrive on positive feedback as well and if it’s not given, they are left wondering if their performance is measuring up.  The old adage by Mark Twain that reads, “I could live two months on a good compliment,” is true, especially for employees.

Second, if there is no review, you are opening up the door to feelings of resentment from employees, especially if reviews have been a part of business in the past.

If you don’t have the money to give raises, then just explain that to the employee and let them decide what they should do or if they need to find another job.

Having an honest, frank discussion about the state of your business will be appreciated much more than beating around the bush and not opening up.

Finally, reviews are a crucial time to review goals and what has or has not been accomplished in the past year.  It’s a great measuring tool to see if you and your employees are on the same page, accomplishing what needs to be done and on track for the coming year.

Don’t miss out on these crucial reviews – they are beneficial for everyone and will overall improve morale and employee performance.

Communication Morale

Gossip, Gossip Everywhere – Even at Work

A recent study that came out of the University of Amsterdam found that 90 percent of all workplace conversations consist of gossip.

That sounds a bit alarming at first.  No one likes a gossip, but the study found that sometimes gossip can be helpful at work.

A team of psychologists in the Netherlands say that gossip in the workplace can serve a purpose to warn co-workers about others who are not pulling their weight or to try to get lazier workers to pick up the pace.

Say you have a friend at work that you really like, but they spend an inordinate amount of time texting their friends, online shopping or other time wasters.  A good piece of gossip to pass along might be, “Hey, I heard the boss is really cracking down on non-work related activities and I would hate for you to get in trouble.”

That would constitute as gossip, but you’re trying to help someone out in the process.

Bianca Beersma and Professor Gerben VanKleef, co-authors of the study, said that organizations can “minimize the negative and optimize the positive consequences (of gossip).”

“Speech makes it possible for group members to warn each other against those who do not behave in accordance with the group’s norms,” they wrote in the study.

The study asked 121 university’s undergrads for their motive in gossiping. Although answers varied, some said they chose to gossip to protect a group from harmful behavior among members.

“Moral codes derived from Christian and Jewish religions condemn gossip and incorporate a number of severe punishments designed to discourage it,” the authors wrote. “Even in societies in which religion no longer plays a central role, gossip is often frowned upon and is seen as reproachable.

But is gossiping really that negative? By gossiping, one can warn group members against others who violate group norms, and it is possible that this explicit motive is a reason to instigate gossip.”

So, gossip can be a positive thing, but in order to cultivate an environment that has little to no negative gossip – that has to come from the top down.

If a manager or boss is fair, equitable and stresses that loyalty to company and to each other is a key component to the success of the business, then employees will be more willing to overlook shortcomings and be a cohesive group.

Communication Hiring Tips Job Interviews

Creative Job Interview Questions

What phrase or word best describes you?  What color best represents you and why? 

We’ve all heard weird job interview questions that make you think, “What does this have to do with anything?”

Well, sometimes the questions are posed just to see how fast people can think on their feet.  Other times, the questions are very telling.

For example, when asked the question, “what phrase best describes you,” one employee answered quickly and said, “the phrase the best describes me is ‘Rise and Shine’ because I rise quickly to any challenge and my performance shines.

This employee got the job.

Answers to weird and seemingly nonsensical questions may be the key to getting hired for a job over another applicant.

Here are a few questions that might be fun to ask during job interviews just to see what will come out the applicant’s mouth.  Or, if you are an applicant yourself, then formulate creative answers to these questions so you are prepared for whatever may come.

1. What drink are you most likely to order at a restaurant?

This answer could show some personality traits, but may also tell the company whether you drink alcohol or not. In order to keep health insurance costs low, the company may try to hire non-drinkers.

2.  What is the last book you read?

A book choice shows personality traits, interests and intelligence in one quick answer.  Employers like employees who are intelligent and also read industry-specific books or motivational reads that relate to their business.

3.  What was the last movie you went to see or what is your favorite song?

Again, these questions highlight interests and personality traits.

4.  If you won millions of dollars in the lottery, what would you do with the winnings?

This answer highlights the interviewee’s goals, planning, generosity, responsibility and creativity.

5.  If hired, what are the top three things you’d do on your first day at work here?

This answer will be very telling to see if the interviewee has a firm grasp on how to initiate themselves into a new environment and also how much they understand about what the job entails. 

6.  How would you describe yourself in three words?

This question may elicit more canned responses, but you can tell a lot by a job candidate by the words they choose.  Once they say the words, ask details about each word.  For example, if they use the word “resourceful,” turn it around and ask them to describe a situation where they were resourceful. 

Interviewing for a job can be a fun and fulfilling experience for both parties involved, and asking weird and off the wall questions if nothing else, will give you lots of humorous fodder for the water cooler discussions around the office.

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