Rock, Paper, SCISSOR! (Know When to Cut Your Employees Loose)

Mar 03, 2020

Rock, Paper, SCISSOR!

Know When to Cut Your Employees Loose

                 Have you ever had that uncomfortable moment when you have to say the infamous phrase to an employee, “can I speak to you in my office?”. As an employer or manager, you may catch yourself in those last few minutes before they arrive reverting to your childhood with a good ole’ game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. It seems like it’s a fair way to try and get yourself out of the hot seat and place it onto someone else, right? Terminating an employee is sometimes like this game because no one wants to be the bearer of bad news by looking like the bad guy (or gal). Terminations have their challenges with even some risk, so it’s an emotionally difficult task. You want to ensure that you are confident with your decision, especially if the employee isn’t underperforming or violating any company policies. So, this process needs to be in the best interest of the company. You must gain your confidence and always remember to choose scissors when cutting an employee loose.

Deciding When to Terminate

                 When you are not seeing significant progress with your employee, ask yourself a few questions. The first and most important is, should you terminate this employee? What are the costs of this termination or if you delay this decision? Should you consult with someone else beforehand? What are some of the risks associated with this termination? Should you wait it out and see what happens later? If you have gotten to this point, more than likely it is time to let your employee go. You never want to delay the process, because if your employee is not working to your standards, then you are not building your team up efficiently. A key example, if this employee came to you with his or her resignation, how would you react to it? Down below are some of the most common reasons an employer may consider termination:

  • Excessive absences
  • Unauthorized leave
  • Poor performance
  • Insubordination
  • Negative attitude or behavior
  • Criminal activity (i.e. incarceration, theft, removal of property, assault)
  • Violation of company rule or policy (i.e. sexual harassment, bullying, safety etc.)
  • Failed pre-employment requirements (i.e. physical, drug test, background investigation)
  • Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) (i.e. ineffective or unattainable)

                 Regardless of the reason, it is imperative to ensure that a termination is handled with ethics and integrity. Also, having some consideration on how this will affect the employee, so you may want to ask yourself some of the following questions first:

  • What is the primary issue with this employee? Consider the root cause (i.e. poor performance, lack of understanding, inadequate training etc.)
  • What is their contribution to the company? Is this employee making significant growth/progress within the company to make it better or more efficient?
  • Was progressive discipline provided? Some states are considered “at-will”, meaning that an employer does not have to provide a reason for termination. However, even for these states, it is only fair to provide the opportunity for improvement through discipline.
  • Does the employee have a contract? Review legalities, as some terminations may only be based on cause. Always remember to review state law with contractual agreements and at-will


                                             Best Practices

  • Document performance: Key for defending your decision
  • Be consistent: Follow own policy on termination
  • Be objective: Removes added emotion
  • Conduct an investigation (if applicable): Becomes legally defensible if needed
  • Bring a witness: Eliminates accusations and retaliation

               Terminations can be the worst part of being an employer or manager, but it shouldn’t be something to suffer through. When meeting with the employee, it should not be a surprise or come without warning beforehand. If you are confident that your employee can not meet measurable improvement or is not the best fit for your company, then how you terminate an employee is incredibly important. Ensure that the meeting is quick and clearly explained. It does NOT have to be a long-drawn-out process, however; the employee should leave knowing that the decision is final.


Disclaimer: HR Branches provides general information about Human Resources. Please note that the information provided, while reliable, is not legal advice. Please seek legal assistance, or assistance from State, Federal, or International governmental resources, to make sure your legal interpretation and decisions are correct for your location and circumstances. The purpose of this information is for guidance, ideas, and assistance on general HR matters.

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