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One Less Bell to Answer

One of the toughest things to do is to dismiss an employee.  Even when the cause is based upon poor performance, attendance issues or insubordination, it can be a tough conversation.  It's likely that the person being terminated has financial and/or familial obligations that will be affected by this dismissal.  An HR professional and the manager involved often know about these obligations but must forge ahead with the right course of action.

What's even sadder is the sigh of relief that co-workers and management may make after this person's termination.  You can almost hear William Wallace yell, "Freedom" to those in the surrounding cubicles.  The frustration and annoyance that person brought will not be missed and the relief is palpable.

In an exit interview, I would love to share with the terminated individual the relief that this dismissal is bringing so many others.  There will not have to be a team of people covering for you when you're not here.  There won't be a need to do your work for you due to your lack of drive to perform well.  No one will have to walk on egg shells because of your short temper and entitled attitude.  Obviously, these would be extremely tough points to bring up, and the timing would be like pouring salt on a wound.

So, think proactively.  Am I that person?  Am I the person who, although still working, acts like the terminated person described here?  Will anyone miss my contribution should I not be here any longer or are most counting the days until there's enough documentation to terminate me?

Sadly, the people who need to hear this message the most will read this blog and think of others for whom it applies.  The reality is that every person in each organization has a role in the health of the fabric of the company.  When there is a tear in that fabric, it does not affect just that area, but the entire piece.  Once a tear begins, the entire fabric is weakened at that point and it's usage expectancy is short.  Turnover is expensive and it's vital to address those areas of concern with those people who need help.

In the Fifth Dimension song "One Less Bell to Answer," Marilyn McCoo (of course I know who it is without performing a search) sings about her love that is now gone and shares all the reasons why it's good he's gone.  Yet, ultimately, she sings, "I should be happy, but all I do is cry."  I liken it to an employment relationship.  When someone is terminated, there are reasons to rejoice.  The aggravation is gone, the forced micro-managing can stop, but the reasons to cry are just as many.  The time wasted, the morale impacted, the money spent...all of this and more.

Companies need to address issues as a matter of constant performance review, not an annual report.  Coaching is constant.  Work the team daily.  If someone is not a fit, you'll know much sooner than later and can make those cuts without much pain.  Allowing a sore to fester is never the answer.

And if you're that employee who is the cause of grief and frustration, stop it.  You know better and can make better choices.  You're intelligent and capable; it's likely how you got the position in the first place.  Today is the day to make the decision to work towards healthy interaction, participation and production.  You can do this.

The company needs your involvement; it's why you were hired.  Remember, people should want to answer the door when you ring, instead of being relieved when you leave the keys on the table on your way out.

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