Tag Archives: HR Strategy

The Dreaded Termination Conversation

Sandy Arseneault, CHRP

Sandy Arseneault, CHRP

Even if you don’t work in the construction or manufacturing industry, chances are you have been witness to (or have heard from others about) organizational cutbacks during winter months.  In my experience, December and January are the months of closures and layoffs – bad timing for the holidays, yes, I know.  However, these months typically push the lowest production all year due to the nature of the industry.

What does this mean?  Managers and Supervisors now have to plan for, conduct and manage what I call “The Dreaded Termination Conversation” or “DTC”.  Just so you know… Managers hate these meetings too!  Clearly it is for different reasons but it is hard to give difficult news without it snowballing into an avalanche.

So what do I suggest as a (misconceived) Career Grim Reaper? Research, Write a Speech and Rehearse.

Here’s the easy part: At one time or another, we’ve all read them – articles about how to terminate employees “the right way”.  Some examples you may have considered are:

1.       How to Fire An Employee: The Do’s and Don’ts of Terminating Employees to Keep You Out  of Hot Water [1]

2.       The Best Way to Terminate an Employee [2]

3.       How to Fire Someone: Respectful Tips and Exact Verbiage for Managers [3]

4.       How to Fire With Compassion and Class [4]

The list goes on.  Managers should read these articles to get a better understanding as to which termination guidelines they should follow and why using those guidelines are important.  For example; set the tone, make eye contact, be straight forward, make it short and to the point, and refrain from terminating on a Friday or Monday, etc.

Here’s the tricky part: Very few termination articles outline a clear speech Managers can use to mimic their DTC.  For this reason, I would like to share a dialogue I’ve had a Manager use before:

Supervisor or Manager:

Hi Neil (or Nancy).  Come in and have a seat.  I have some bad news for you.  As you know, the company has experienced a drop in production this winter due to the weather and the nature of our business.  As a result, I have to inform you that your employment with us has been terminated as of today.

I’m sure you have questions regarding pay, benefits continuance, unused vacation time, a letter of reference and outplacement so I will let Sandy discuss this with you.  If you have any other questions I may be able to answer them before you meet with Sandy.

If yes: answer clearly and concisely, with the use of facts (not     confidential info).

If they have a question you do not know the answer to, say “I will get      back to you on that”.  Just be sure to follow up!

I understand this is difficult news but I need to collect company property from your work station and ask that you hand in your keys at this time (collect phone and vehicle keys, if applicable).  If you need time before collecting your personal items you are welcome to go home and come back in a day or two.  Or, if you would be comfortable with Sandy packing your personal items I can have them couriered to your home.  Which would you prefer?

Neil (or Nancy).  I want you to know that it was a real pleasure working with you.  Thank you for all of your hard work.  (Optional: If our situation changes, I could let you know).

If they take you up on the offer, be sure to make a note of that.

Are you okay to drive, or would you like me to call you a cab?

Show Neil (or Nancy)out or call a cab if need be.

Of course, you can tailor your message by substituting the reason for the termination but the rest of the message should remain the same.  Remember – don’t make promises you do not intend to keep.  If you don’t plan to call an employee back from a termination due to ‘shortage of work’, don’t!  They will respect your honesty in the end.

Finally; REHEARSE!  I can’t stress this step enough.  If you don’t have an HR Professional to practice a “fake fire” with, use a close friend or family member (don’t use another employee).  Of course, you can even rehearse your speech in a mirror if you’d prefer.  Regardless, the more you run through your speech – the easier it is going to be during the DTC.  Just don’t start sounding like a robot.  Be genuine.

This is someone’s career, after all.

Good Luck 🙂

How Equitable are Diversity Strategies?

Having a diverse workplace is important. It brings together a variety of perspectives and experiences. It creates an environment that can by dynamic, inclusive and vibrant.

However, some could argue that the best way to see diversity reflected in an organization is to let it happen organically, that is the best people for the job are hired and then diversity results. I believe that diversity strategies do have a place in the workplace however they must prioritize experience and suitability at the forefront in order to be fair. Fairness and equality are just as important in any hiring strategy. In order to have an effective and successful workplace diversity strategies must be equitable.

Diversity strategies should be a part of a broader HR strategy, and not only the main component. Only by making diversity strategies a piece and not the whole part of the hiring process will an organization ensure they are hiring the most suitable and skilled individuals. Therefore I believe that it is very important that diversity strategies be developed with equity in mind in order to ensure success for all employees.

The proof is in the Pudding: How equitable are diversity strategies

Off the bat, I am going to say that they are as fair as you make them.

That being said, I believe that having a diversity strategy and an accompanying outline policy and procedure is the first step in the right direction. However, with any policy or program, an equitable execution requires both interpretation and context to accurately apply- and this is where the root of unbiased diversity creation rests.

Using a diversity strategy in any blanket sense of application can do more harm than good, and actually create a form of reverse discrimination. If you have a minority group in which your diversity strategy addresses including this group in your work force and has procedures in place to ensure that the ‘playing field’ is leveled for them, you inherently are placing all other candidates at a drawback in order to do so. Its sort of confusing to think that removing an advantage from one group makes it fair for all, but that is only one strategy, and perhaps isn’t part of your corporate strategy at all, and that’s totally ok…

I think that having a true alignment with your business’s culture and mandate is key to being able to be transparent about your diversity strategy, and the statement of it. A key element of what is ‘fair’ is always in the eye of the beholder, and is all based on perception. In order to ensure that your program is being perceived as intended, honest and forthright communication of it is integral.

The other piece is that the diversity strategy needs to be just that- truly strategic. This means it is applied with thought and careful to precision to only tip the scales when appropriate and needed.

Regardless of what side of the program one was on, the side of the minority or majority, I’d find it fairer to know that if there is a diversity strategy in place, and that closes a door for a candidate at this time, that another door will be opened for that candidate in another situation. In a grander sense, that as much as there is a tipping of the scale at one moment, that an equal and opposite tipping back the opposite favour is inevitable and will happen. In really deconstructed example: if sex was the factor at hand, if this time around the scales were tipped in the favour of a woman, perhaps then to be equitable they would be tipped in the favour of a man the next time, either through action or passivity.

Maybe that last example was a bit too much and a bit of a loose end. But, I think the factor remains is that these programs are inherently good, and have been needed and that it boils down to application, not existence of the programs that dictates the equitableness.