<i>Dear Workforce</i> How Do We Sensitively Let Go of a Longtime Employee

May 17, 2010
Dear Crisis of Conscience:
If you need an employee who can work more hours and who has more skills, failing to make a change will negatively affect your business. Your first job is to ensure the vitality of your organization. Unfortunately, I've seen many soft-hearted people hesitate to make difficult but necessary changes, and hurt their business and other employees as a result. Sometimes you have to do unpleasant things in business. True professionals take the time to carefully think through difficult decisions and are routinely rewarded with better outcomes.
I've found that honesty and compassion make these situations easier on everyone involved. In this case, I'd suggest that you:

• Clearly detail the work that needs to be done, being as concrete as possible. Note the specific additional work that must be accomplished and the skills required to do it. This will help ensure that you are not over- or under-hiring for your needs and will provide the information needed to explain your need to your current employee. This will also help you justify your decision to other employees and third parties (customers, regulatory agencies, etc.) with interest in the rationale for the change.
• Next, sit down with your current employee and share the data you've compiled. The goal is to help her understand why you must have someone who is willing to work more hours and has more advanced skills. Helping her understand the need should help her accept it. By having an open, fact-based conversation with your current employee, she may also help you identify any incorrect assumptions you've made about the work that must be done, and better target your true needs.
• Finally, describe what you are going to do to help her in her transition to her next job. There are many possibilities. Consider providing the exiting employee with advance notice of the change or, if this is not practical, with as generous a severance package as warranted given her years of service and other relevant factors. I also suggest that you consider providing the employee with the services of an outplacement counselor to help speed the job search while lessening her stress in the process. You might also help her market herself to other local businesses by proactively communicating her availability to them.
Going out of your way to help will often be appreciated by those exiting your organization. Even in the rare case that it is not appreciated, it is still the right thing to do. The way you, as a leader, end a professional relationship says more about you than any other business action. Ending with style helps everyone smile.
SOURCE: Rick Galbreath, Performance Growth Partners, Bloomington, Illinois, April 23, 2010
LEARN MORE: Please read how companies have been following a trend of cracking down on absenteeism as a result of the recession.
Workforce Management Online, May 2010 -- Register Now!
The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.
Ask a Question
Dear Workforce Newsletter