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Image Credit: <fianita.hubpages.com

Image Credit: <fianita.hubpages.com>

…It has always bothered me when I see or hear about a hopeless employee that has been put on a performance improvement plan. The manager has often (correctly) given up on such a colleague by the time the plan is administered, and is simply documenting performance issues as a precursor to the employee’s eventual termination.

With that said, I am all for lining one’s ducks up in a row before terminating. When an employee is fired without corrective action and documentation he or she often assumes management had sinister motivations: Lawsuits ensue.

…So I suppose it would be more complete for me to say that while it’s certainly good practice to document disciplinary steps before moving to terminate even in cases where termination is a foregone conclusion… if it’s obvious to everyone involved that an employee isn’t going to make it then I also like the idea of putting together an exit strategy which allows the colleague the opportunity to transition into a different role (internally if there is a good fit, and otherwise externally) as an alternative to termination. Going through the motions of a performance improvement plan when the decision to terminate has already been made gives the employee false hope and often leaves them flat footed when the day of reckoning finally comes. As such, I think (when possible) that such action should be taken in concert with the implementation of a transition plan that allows the colleague to leave the organization on his/her feet.

…But how does a manager say to a nonperforming employee “It looks like you aren’t going to be a fit in this role. Have you considered pursuing other opportunities?” Is it that simple? It doesn’t feel like it.

Further, once that decision has been made what does that process look like? To be sure, if an employer has already decided an employee is not going to be able to succeed in the role then keeping them on the payroll while they seek new opportunities is hardly good business. Conversely, there is something that seems right about ensuring an employee who isn’t competent enough .1. I feel it goes without saying that if the issue is effort and not competence, the same courtesy shouldn’t be afforded an employee… but I’m going to say it anyway just in case.for a role (through no lack of effort 1) exits the organization with dignity and an opportunity to succeed somewhere else in the least painful way possible.

…To this point, many individual managers – and in some cases entire organizations – have a policy of helping poor-fitting talent transition to a new role as opposed to terminating. With that said, beyond the obvious (not allowing the process to drag on indefinitely, having an objective performance review process in place etc.), what needs to be in place for something like this to work well? Should such matters be addressed case by case, or on the other hand is an informal (enterprise-wide) policy ever tenable here?

As always, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Best,

Rory

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