Baseball Bat.jpgBloomberg Businessweek recently featured in its “How to Issue” insight from the manager of the Baltimore Orioles, Buck Showalter, about how to terminate an employee. Mr. Showalter has been a Major League Baseball manager for 14 seasons. Among his recommendations for letting an employee go: 

You’re trying to define reality as you and the organization see it … You have to be aggressive. If you’re speaking like you’re not real sure about the action that’s getting ready to take place, that really creates a lot of anxiety. So I’ve rehearsed it. And I try to be prepared for whatever might go a different direction… I’ve had a bat within short reach.

Recommendations for Terminating an Employee

Relying on a bat as part of the termination process is not recommended. But it is recommended that employers and HR managers view ending the employment relationship as a process – not an event.

As part of that process, employers and HR should consider the following: 

  1. Record all instances of misconduct, insubordination, or substandard performance. Any such instances should be written up as soon as they occur, even if they are not incorporated into the written evaluation until later.
  2. Before any evaluation process, evaluators should receive written guidelines reminding them of appropriate evaluation behaviors.
  3. Employers should not address employee termination on an ad hoc basis. Instead, managers and decision-makers should have policies and procedures that are consistently followed.  
  4. Avoid disciplinary policies that limit employers to specific conduct. Thus even if an employer’s discipline policy is normally progressive, the policy should provide for the exercise of discretion, e.g., disciplining or terminating an employee without exhausting all the steps outlined in the policy.
  5. Before disciplining or terminating an employee for poor job performance, employers should make sure adequate documentation of the employee’s performance deficiencies exist and there is no evidence of disparate treatment.

For additional recommendations relating to the end of the employment relationship, see Employee Exit Interviews – What’s On Your Checklist? Also, contact Jason Shinn for further questions or advice on how to properly end the employment relationship.