#256: What to Do When You Have to Say, “You’re Fired!” (Part II)

What to do when you have to say, “You’re Fired!!” Last week we looked at whether a Christian should always forgive and never fire, or if there were circumstances that demand terminating an employee.

Fire, Terimnate

If you missed last week’s discussion, you can read it here.

Before making the termination decision, the Christian manager needs to have taken appropriate measures to bring an underperformer’s results up to acceptable levels. In the case of suspected fraud or other deception, the Christian manager needs to confirm the offense to a certainty.

This week we’ll look at the decision to terminate and how to handle that dreaded discussion that precedes the words, “You’re Fired!”

1) Know the law.

There are federal, state, and often, local statutes governing the dismissal of an employee. A Christian leader respects man’s law (Romans 13:1-5). In the U.S., under “employment at will” statutes, employers have the right to dismiss employees for any reason except when in violation of anti-discrimination or contract law.

2) Fire early.

My preference is to conduct the termination discussion early in the day and early in the week. The reason is simply so the employee can get busy moving on. I know some managers who prefer to fire employees on a Friday, but I think this just gives the employee a whole weekend to stew and stress-out before they can begin to move on with a job search.

3) Fire in private.

Conduct termination meetings in private. There is no need to embarrass an employee with a public dismissal. Jesus told the disciples to deal with people’s sin in private whenever possible (Matthew 18:15-17).

4) Keep it short.

Get all your facts together beforehand and be prepared to deliver a concise description of the issues.  Getting into a long discussion can turn into a debate that ultimately leads to frustration. Solomon said a wise man limits his words and restrains his lips (Proverbs 10:19).

5) Avoid arguing.

Some employees will try to fend off what they know is coming by shifting blame to others, blaming management, or even denying the issues. Avoid arguing with the employee. Arguing only serves to escalate the situation. Remember, Solomon’s advice about a gentle answer turning away wrath (Proverbs 15:1).

6) Offer an option.

In some cases, it may be appropriate to offer an employee the opportunity to resign rather than being fired. The option to resign allows the employee to save face and is most appropriate when the cause of the dismissal is performance related. I am less inclined to make the offer to resign when the termination is “for cause” (theft, falsifying records, etc.).

7) Be prepared.

Know the benefits that are due the employee. Is there accrued vacation time? Carry-over health benefits? Severance pay? Have all the facts and figures readily available to conclude the termination discussion.

8) Be humble and full of grace.

Regardless of the cause of the termination, Christian leaders need to approach an employee termination with humble hearts full of grace. We are saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9) and need to consider how we would want to be treated if the shoe was ever on the other foot (Luke 6:31).

Every manager with employees will eventually face the decision to fire an employee We are commanded to be good stewards, and that includes our businesses as well as our ministries. We are not being good stewards of people’s God-given talents if we allow them to languish in a position that does not fit them well. We are not being good stewards if we allow a deceitful person to squander the resources of the organization.

Being a good steward requires that we be prepared to terminate employees, but when the need arises, we need to reflect a balance between God’s law and God’s grace.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. What experiences good or bad do you have with terminating employees?

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Category: Skills | Management of Human Resources

 

 

 

#255: What to Do When You Have to Say, “You’re Fired!”

I think any manager with a beating heart will tell you one of the hardest (if not the hardest) things they have ever had to do was to fire an employee. All the HR training in the world doesn’t prepare you for the flood of emotions that come along with the words, “You’re fired!”

Fired
Many thanks to Cody L. for asking this question about the Biblical principles surrounding the termination of employees.

Harold

Just a few days before Christmas I drove to Harold’s house early in the morning. I had to pick up his company car, and all his company supplies and records. Harold had falsified his sales results saying he had been making sales calls when he was relaxing at home. I had fired Harold the day before.

As a young manager, firing Harold was the hardest thing I’d ever had to do. He was married. He had children. It was just before Christmas.  But he admitted falsifying records, so a “for cause” termination was my only course of action.

Kahlani

I picked up my boss long before the sun came up and we drove 150 miles north to meet Kahlani. Kahlani’s previous boss noted her lagging sales performance and tried to get her results up to par. She talked a good game—she said she wanted to do well—but she didn’t improve.

When I took over as her manager, I had no choice but to put her on formal probation. For three months, I worked with her regularly to help improve her sales skills. But she just didn’t improve.

As I drove north with my boss, I knew this would be a tough meeting. I had to tell Kahlani she had not met the requirements of her probation. As a result, I was terminating her employment.

As expected, the meeting with Kahlani was difficult. As my boss and I talked through her history of poor results, she finally confessed she didn’t like sales all that much. As we left her, she thanked us for the opportunity to work for a good company, for the time we had invested in helping her, and mostly, for freeing her to move on. It turns out she had wanted to quit for some time but didn’t have the courage.

Whether it is for cause, as it was with Harold, or because of poor performance, as it was with Kahlani, terminating an employee is tough.

Is There a Biblical Basis for Firing?

Christian leaders seem to have an especially hard time terminating an employee. They wonder, “How can I reconcile terminating an employee with God’s call to forgive?” There are many verses, from both the Old and New Testament, that support the call to forgiveness. Here are two examples:

“A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense” (Proverbs 19:11).

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:21-22).

So, if we are to forgive, how can we justify terminating an employee?

While the Scripture does not specifically mention terminating an employee, there are a number of verses that speak to the issue of removing certain individuals because of their behavior.

For example,

Proverbs 22:10 tells us to Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife; quarrels and insults are ended.”

And,

Proverbs 25:5 advises we remove the wicked from the king’s presence, and his throne will be established through righteousness.”

Finally, in 1 Corinthians 5, Paul chastises the Corinthians for boasting about allowing a sexually immoral man to remain in the church. He warned them that such immorality could spread and needs to be dealt with immediately.

“Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast–as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Corinthians 5:6-7).

Resolving the Tension

There is tension between these Biblical teachings. On the one hand, we are called to be forgiving. On the other hand, we also have a responsibility to discipline bad behavior up to and including firing the offender.

How do we resolve the tension between these Biblical teachings?

We must balance law and grace.

We must reflect God’s grace as we help those who are struggling to perform at acceptable levels.

We must also protect the organization by taking immediate action with those whose behavior brings harm to the organization.

Next week we’ll examine more specifics on handling the termination interview in “What to Do When You Have to Say, “You’re Fired!” (Part II)

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. What experiences good or bad do you have with terminating employees?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Skills | Management of Human Resources

 

 

 

#254: The Most Important Goal You Forgot to Set

Happy New Year! 2017 is in our rear-view mirror. 2018 lies ahead, all shiny and new, ready to be explored.

Goal Rest

It is the time of year when many of us obsessive-compulsives set new goals for ourselves. Our goals have us reaching higher, climbing faster, and going where no man has gone before. We set goals for our careers, our relationships, our physical fitness, and a plethora of other things.

But most of us forget to set one important goal. And this goal is critical. Because failing at this goal almost always causes us to fail at the career goals, the relationship goals, the fitness goals, and all the others.

Here’s How Things Usually Go

We spend a few minutes reflecting on the year just past. We determine to make the next year the best year ever by setting new goals that represent all our dreams and aspirations. Once the goals are memorialized in our new productivity planners, we put our heads down and get to work. We charge ahead. We give every goal 110% effort.

We reach higher. Climb faster. And go where no man has gone before.

And then suddenly, without warning, we’re lost. We’re exhausted and completed stressed out. Amidst a forest of competing demands, we can no longer see the goal off in the distance. We may not even remember why we set the goal in the first place!

We give up and commit to doing better with our goals next year! And all this happens by the end of January!

What happened?

We forgot to set the most important goal!

The Most Important Goal

When God finished the work of creation what did He do? He rested! This theme of rest occurs throughout the Scripture. God ordained special celebrations when His people were to abstain from all work to rest and worship Him. Even the land was allowed to rest a full year every seven years!

As we jump to the New Testament Jesus continues to underscore the importance of rest. Preaching to the crowds, Jesus said,

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).

Who, these days, is not weary and burdened? Jesus invited all us who are weary and burdened to come to Him, and in Him, He promised rest for our souls.

Easy to say, quite a bit harder to live out in our daily lives. We don’t have rest training in school, and our employers certainly don’t offer weekend seminars on resting!

But if we want to be the people God designed us to be, we need to do what He has designed us to do.

I love the way author Gwen Smith defines the acronym R.E.S.T. in her article, “God’s Best Requires Rest.”

  • Reflect
  • Engage
  • Surrender
  • Trust

Reflect

Gwen says, “When you reflect on God, you better reflect God.” The truth of the matter is, most of us are so busy we don’t spend much time outside of church reflecting on the magnificence of our Creator!

Engage

Engage with God on a personal level. Pray. Meditate on God’s Word. Paul said if we tell God about everything, then He will give us peace (Philippians 4:6-7).

Surrender

Surrender your will to God’s will. Remember what Jesus said as He prayed in the Garden of Eden? He said, “…not my will but thy will be done (Luke 22:42)! On His way to the cross, Jesus remained completely surrendered to the Father’s will.

Trust

Trust God. Life can be messy, dangerous, disappointing, and terrifying. But we must trust God’s promise, “…we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

Establish Your R.E.S.T. Goal

Get out your planner, or wherever you have your goals written down, and add a R.E.S.T. goal.

And just to get you pointed in the right direction consider the following:

  • Daily: 30 minutes of rest. I know this one is hard. You’re not used to doing it. You tell yourself you don’t have time. But you need to make time! Take 30 minutes every day to rest. Go for a walk in a park or at the beach. Spend some time thinking about God’s grace in your life. Decompress from all the other stress in your life!
  • Weekly: Sabbath of rest. I checked, and Commandment number 4 is still in the Bible (Exodus 20:8). So, take one day a week and rest in the Lord. Keep the day Holy to the Lord. Don’t trade company email, major housework, or remodeling projects for rest. R.E.S.T. one day. It’s part of God’s plan for us.
  • Quarterly: Two days of rest. Plan a weekend away. No work. Shut off all your electronic devices. Take your Bible and maybe a notepad. Or maybe a good Christian book. Practice R.E.S.T.
  • Annually: A full week of rest. Schedule it. Make it happen. Go somewhere. Explore God’s magnificent creation. Go on walks. Get away from work and the stresses that surround you at home. Reflect. Engage. Surrender. Trust.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. How do you practice R.E.S.T.? What ideas can you share that have worked for you?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Priorities