Employee terminations are an unfortunate reality of every business. But that doesn't mean employers and their managers are good at carrying out terminations.
Take for example a response Sir James Dyson (yes, the vacuum guy was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2006) gave when he responded to Bloomberg Businessweek's "Ask a Billionaire" feature that asked what is the best way to fire someone:
It's terrifying. It took me six months to pluck up the courage to fire the first person.
I have not had the opportunity to represent too many billionaires, but in my experience in representing other business owners, this response is fairly typical and understandable. Often this reluctance is justified that "maybe" the employee will turn it around or that the employee will get the message and just quit. But whatever the reasons - real or manufactured - for delaying the firing will often make the situation worse for the employer and its operations.
Waiting to terminate only compounds the problem.
When it comes to employee terminations, the fact is an employee may not work-out for a business for any number of reasons. Regardless of those reasons, at the end of the day the interests of the employee and the company are no longer (if they were ever) aligned. And it is a mistake for this misalignment to continue.
But when the employer fails or otherwise delays in making the termination, now the employer is compounding the problem by continuing in a misaligned relationship. This situation is not good for anyone - the employee, the employer, and its operations or other employees, especially those who work along-side with the yet-to-be terminated employee.
And another real concern employers should consider is that if an unhealthy employment relationship is allowed to fester, that employee may become disgruntled and actively undermine the business and its relationships with customers or vendors.
But Haste Makes Waste(ful) Litigation.
Nothing in this post should be read to mean that any termination should be a spontaneous decision. Instead, employers need to make sure every termination follows a well-reasoned and documented process. The better the process, the more likely the employer will be able to avoid a later claim the termination was unlawful.
See this link for an actual example of a manager's testimony is directly contradicted by emails and other documents. Also, see this link for considerations employers should examine with their employment attorneys.
Ending a person's employment is a major event and it needs to be handled carefully and should be handled with dignity. But once it is determined an employee's performance or conduct is not acceptable, termination may be the only option. But once this is substantiated, the employer should not delay the carrying out the decision: The employee needs to be terminated no matter how terrifying the experience may be for the employer.
For more information about investigating employee misconduct and terminating the employment relationship, contact employment attorney Jason Shinn. Mr. Shinn routinely collaborates with employers and human resource professionals to properly document issues involving employee misconduct and terminations. This documentation has proven invaluable in fending off claims for wrongful terminations.