One of the most challenging situations managers face is the decision to release an employee. So how do you determine when you have done everything within your power to make them successful? In short when is enough, truly enough? This is a difficult question and to be honest there is not one simple answer. First, I would like to discuss what happens if this situation is not dealt with. I am guessing that most of you have made a hire that was less than stellar. You know the one, the one where you were wondering what on earth you were thinking during the interview, even wondering if you were having some sort of out of body experience because surely you would not have hired this individual. I have had this happen on a couple of different occasions. The question is what do we do moving forward, because ignoring the situation and hoping it gets better is not an effective solution. We have all experienced what keeping an individual on who is not performing adequately does to your team, clients, and the culture of the organization.
Consistency and communication is key in these situations. If you have not already instituted one put a 30, 60, and 90-day review process in place. Reviews allow you to have planned, documented, coachable conversations with the employee. This is your opportunity to provide candid feedback and communicate clear expectations and goals for the employee. Many times, all the employee needs are clear expectations and direction. It has been my experience that this one step can cure a host of issues. Have continual conversations, plan to check in with the employee regularly and invite them to come to you with questions. I have seen plans where the only conversations are the scheduled 30, 60 and 90-day meeting. I am guessing that you can determine the failure rate with this plan.
Generally, at the 30-day mark as a manager you have a pretty good idea of skills that the employee may be lacking. This is a great time to have a conversation around training opportunities. Talking to an individual about training opportunities will give you a lot of insight as to whether they are willing to do the work to be effective in the position. If they do not pursue training opportunities or even go in search of their own training opportunities and present them to you for consideration this may be a good indicator that they are not a good fit for your team.
The 60 day mark is a good time to see if the employee has met the expectations that you have discussed and agreed to. If they have not met your expectations why? Is there a road block in the way such as time? If so assist them in finding the time. A lot of time, energy and expense goes into hiring and as the manager we need to do everything that we can to provide them with the tools that they need to be successful.
The 90 day mark is D day, D in this case is for decision making. Have they meet your expectations, completed all trainings and most importantly made the progress needed to be successful in the position? The reason that I use 90 days as my decision-making day is 90 days is generally the end of the introductory/probationary period. Three months is also sufficient time to determine whether someone is a good fit or not. After three months’ peers grow weary of training and keeping these individuals on can create dissention among your team as they scramble to pick up the pieces that the new employee may be letting slip through.
You can use this same plan for staff that has been with the organization and is not a new hire. Place those struggling individuals on a 90-day performance improvement plan (PIP) using the same 30, 60, and 90-day outline.
It is our job as managers to communicate clear expectations to newly hired individuals as well as current staff who may be struggling. If people are not aware that expectations are not being met how can we expect them to improve?