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How To Fire Someone So They’ll Thank You For It

Take time to help employees realise getting fired isn’t the end of the world.

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In an earlier post, I described how our new CEO determined that we had to fire almost half our team. This sucked for many reasons, but the main one? It was emotional. Firing a terrible person is easy, but how do you fire a good person who is a bad fit in a way that doesn’t hurt them?

That was the next lesson from our new CEO, JT McCormick. He showed us how to fire someone, not just with dignity and respect, but in a way where they actually thank you for the experience. Literally, three of the five people he fired wrote him emails thanking him afterwards.

Here’s exactly what he did:

1. Transition from coaching them up, to coaching them out

As I wrote in the last post, before you fire someone you should identify where they’re not performing, show them, set clear objectives, and give them the coaching they need to achieve them. If you’ve done this, and they nail it, great – you won’t have to fire them.

As you are working through this process, you generally know if they are going to make it or not. If they don’t look like they’re going to make it, then the process to fire them starts. You start to move from from coaching them up, to coaching them out.

Related: Have To Terminate An Employee? Here Are 5 Best Practices

Done right, the processes naturally flow into each other, because they’re both about empathy. “Once you shift to coaching them out, it’s a very delicate series of conversations to get this person to see that they’re not a fit, see why they don’t fit and where they can’t grow with the company, and maybe see a path for them towards something else,” McCormick said. “The first coaching out conversation is diagnosing whether they’re not performing because they’re in the wrong chair. Ask them, ‘If you could do any job in the company, what would it be?'”

If you get a decisive answer, McCormick said, then you have to evaluate if they have the skills for that role. You can even test them in that role.

If you get an answer like, ‘I’m not sure’, then go one step further and ask them if they could create any role in the company – for themselves, what would it be? Have them describe the perfect job for themselves. “If they can’t tell you that,” McCormick said, “then it’s obvious, and not just to you. They’ll start to see this isn’t the place for them.

“The best result here is that they describe a job that does fit them really well, but does not exist in your company. Then they not only see that the company isn’t the right place for them, but that a place does exist for them somewhere else. So the real thing you’re trying to understand yourself, and help them to see, is not only are they not performing, but they’re probably not performing for a reason, and so the best thing possible for them is to move jobs.”

2. Make the dismissal about their dignity and humanity, not corporate HR rules

firing-an-employee-dismissal

Once the decision has been made to fire them, it’s time to stop coaching them out, and fire them. Now you make it completely about them. During the firing conversation, don’t focus on why you’re firing them; that groundwork has been laid already. Now it’s time to help them.

In the firing conversation, McCormick said, don’t focus on the negatives of what they’ve done. “We’ve already talked about this over the past few weeks, so why do that? I’ll go over it quickly, and then move on. I want to focus on the best plan of action for the exit so this person can move on with their life. You want to do right by them.”

This also means not talking to them in a dry, corporate, distant style. It means talking to them and like a human, and treating them like someone you know and value and care about.

“Big corporations have turned firing conversations into these HR nightmares where they’re afraid to say or do anything,” McCormick said. “The conversations are so cold and cutthroat, they really dehumanise people. To hell with that. You know this person, they are a good person, treat them like it.”

Related: When To Fire That Abusive Customer

But this also means not pretending everything is fine. It’s not. They’re getting fired. “On the startup side,” he said, “the problem I see is that entrepreneurs let their feelings get in the way of saying what needs to be said. You have to be able to have a straight conversation with someone regarding the stark truth of what’s happening. Candor is a way of being kind.”

And sometimes, this means letting them say goodbye.

McCormick expands on that thought – “For many people, if they aren’t a complete asshole, you let them say goodbye, especially to the people they were friends with. Especially in startups where some of these folks were key in helping the growth of the company. You let that person save face and exit gracefully. You don’t escort them out with security, like they’re some animal. You treat them with respect by showing them you care about them.”

3. Let them know you will support them, and then actually do it

That final conversation also needs to let them know, very clearly and specifically, what you are going to do to help them now.

Remember – for you, this is the end of their tenure at your company. But they’re not dying. For them, this is their life.

For starters, McCormick said, his company gives the best severance package possible. “If possible, I like to pay eight weeks severance. To have a two month safety net to find their next opportunity really makes them feel safe and cared for, and they can relax,” he said.

McCormick tells employees not only will he write them a recommendation, but he’ll tell them what he’ll say in it. “I give them suggestions about what jobs to go after, based on our earlier conversations about what they want. I even offer to refer them to places I think they will be a good fit with.

“And most importantly,” he continues, “I tell them that this doesn’t have to be the end of our relationship. I’ll answer any questions, and I’ll give them any advice or help I can. Email me. Call me. Text me. I’m here for you if you need me. And I mean it. Most don’t take me up on this, but they still appreciate it, because they know it’s real. And they feel valued and cared for, even while being fired.”

And it works. Done correctly, McCormick said, the fired employees will learn a lot about themselves, and will eventually end up in a better place in their life because of what they learned from the process. “And they will email you and thank you afterwards.”

Related: Should You Fire an Employee Who Lies?

I never would have believed this until I saw it happen. Three different people from our company sent our CEO thank you emails after they left. His coaching had helped them see things about themselves, and his candor and kindness had been a real benefit to them.

Firing people is never fun, but it can leave everyone better off if it’s done right.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Tucker Max is the co-founder and CEO of Book In A Box, and a number-one New York Times bestselling author. He lives in Austin.

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How The Digital World Has Impacted HR

Here are a few ways in which HR has changed.

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Almost every conversation that happens within a business environment is around growth and how technology is changing the way we do business. With few industries left untouched, the digital world has radically changed the way individuals work, creating an even bigger demand for real-time experiences.

The HR department deals with an influx of messages and emails on a daily basis, so in order to make things easier, digital has introduced a variety of different online tools that have certainly helped set the tone for the future of organisational management. With employee cultures, engagement and productivity being a few of the most important topics circulated internally, HR has a fundamental part to play in getting existing employees to adopt a digital mindset that supports this new-age culture.

The quicker businesses take advantage of technology to manage performance, make the hiring process easier and give people access to their own personal information, the quicker it will separate traditional workplace thinking from today’s thinking.

Here are a few ways in which HR has changed:

Cloud computing and online apps

With previous admin and other HR tasks being done by hand, cloud computing has now made everything faster and simpler. Professionals now have access to the latest online tools that will help streamline processes and allow individuals instant access to their own personal information without having to ask for it. This also speeds up the process and takes a lot of extra, unnecessary work off HRs shoulders.

Related: Is Leveraging Your Resources Getting The Job Done Properly?

In the upcoming years, companies can expect cloud-based HR systems to become more automated and mobile friendly. This means that HR and management will be able to access employee payrolls, CV applications and more, with just the click of a button.

People analytics

One of the many benefits that digital has created for HR is the availability of employee data. More companies have started using online applications to monitor employee performance and company productivity. HR departments have started tracking employee behaviour and patterns through their selected app, making employee feedback easier and more efficient. If any employees have complaints, questions or queries, logging these requests online will make it easier for HR to deal with, considering the amount of content they receive, every day. This will also help them to make more effective decisions.

It’s no secret that a company’s most valuable asset is their people, and when looking to motivate employees, track employee training and individual performance or set up a training programme, then online is the way to go. By having a more holistic understanding of your people and how they’re performing, HR can better support a culture of feedback, engagement and motivation. This kind of approach will also enable employees to better align their personal goals to bigger business objectives.

Real-time feedback

Because the digital age has created the impression that things can get done quickly, in real-time, employees feel the need to give and receive feedback with an instant response. Real-time evaluation is much more effective for something that needs to change than an annual or quarterly review would be.

If new procedures, policies, meetings or activities get announced, employees can immediately give their feedback on a specific topic or outcome. This will also help you know when to make changes both within the organisation and with employees. For example, employees who don’t measure up to their KPI standards can be subjected to additional training or can be let go in favour of someone else who can come in and do the job better than they do.

Related: What Happened To The Workplace? How To Make It More Human

AI, VR and AR

Gone are the days where robots, VR and AR were simply jargon used among tech geeks. These terms have officially made it to everyday conversations, between business owners, employees and HR leaders. Virtual Reality (VR) which can be identified as a recreation of reality, is now being harnessed by companies in their training activities, as well as Augmented Reality (AR) which enhances technology. These elements are starting to become far more integrated into internal activities, helping employers engage better with employees, making activities more interactive and fun.

While many advancements have been made to the HR department and even HR management courses at colleges, there are countless others to look forward to. New tech innovations are introduced every day, creating even greater opportunities for businesses to align their goals with HR.

Professionals will need to keep up to date with the latest trends and develop their own strategies to stay within the path of progress. Much like all things digital, we all have mixed emotions when it comes to new trends but in order for companies to stay relevant, they will need to adapt their company goals to meet these challenges. Technology is only going to keep moving forward.

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A Culture Of Discipline Critical For SMMEs To Thrive

Employees are the heart and soul of every organisation, especially for Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs).

Thabang Rapuleng

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Employees are the heart and soul of every organisation, especially for Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs). As a result, the implementation, as well as enforcement of clear workplace policies and practices is critical to the success of these companies.

With South African Labour Law as strict as it is, we are still finding a significant number of SMMEs that do not have any formal policies and procedures, which increases the risk of these companies not complying with labour laws.

This is often as a result of SMMEs not having the necessary manpower or finances to have fully-fledged human resources (HR) departments. It can therefore be a common occurrence to find SMME owners at the helm of HR divisions.

An owner-run HR department will also not necessarily be overly familiar with labour laws. The company will often do something that is “good for business” but not advisable in terms of the law. This could lead to poor decisions being made and could be detrimental to the future of the company.

Related: 3 Steps To Find And Keep Top Talent In Your Business

Poor communication of policies and procedures is another area of concern for many SMMEs, resulting in employees often being unaware of HR policies and making them likely to infringe on these policies. New employees may also find it difficult to adapt to the business and employees could end up losing what could have been a valuable asset to a growing business.

A culture of discipline is essential

Discipline with regards to the enforcement of policies must be considered as a day-to-day management function, rather than a once-off or ad hoc event. This approach will ensure an issue is resolved before it spirals out of control.

For example, if an employee takes an extended lunch break, and the employer allows it to happen, it will send a message to other employees that this is perfectly acceptable. Employers will soon find other employees adopting a similar approach, possibly resulting in a large-scale disciplinary process. If the employer took the time and initiated a disciplinary discussion with the one employee, it would have communicated to other staff that this type of behaviour is not tolerated, avoiding a potentially bigger issue.

This is not just an issue in SMMEs. CDH often finds large corporates also struggling to maintain discipline on a day-to-day basis. In some cases, corporates tend to wait until an employee has made a significant mistake or serious act of negligence before intervening.

Record-keeping is your ally

Keeping a record of all disciplinary matters is an essential part of creating a culture of discipline in the workplace. It is critical that all verbal and written warnings are recorded and kept in the employee’s file.

Related: Servant Leadership – Will You Serve?

Under South African Labour Law, an employee must always be allowed to state his/her case in all disciplinary matters, irrespective of the seriousness of the infringement.

Before the employer issues a verbal or written warning, the employer must notify the employee of his/her infringement. The employees must then be given the opportunity to state their case and if the employer is not satisfied with their explanation, the employer may then legally issue the warning.

For more serious matters, which verbal or written warnings will not solve, you must follow more formal steps, such as disciplinary hearings. However, if you maintain a culture of discipline on a daily basis, you will rarely have issues escalating to such a degree.

Correcting an overall workplace culture is far more difficult than rectifying a small incident. When an employer has to correct an entire culture that is deeply entrenched in their business, the process can be more expensive and take much longer.

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8 Ways To Upskill Your Call Centre Team Before Year-End

For South African call centres, November is the busiest month of the year, so to get in on the action, it’s only appropriate for Olico to provide a few tips on how to upskill your call centre agents.

Gareth Moutain

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As we’re heading into the 2017 home-stretch, many companies will be concerned about hitting those final sales figures. Apart from being a tough year financially, traditionally sales tend to lag behind at this stage. But there is hope.

For South African call centres, November is the busiest month of the year, so to get in on the action, it’s only appropriate for Olico to provide a few tips on how to upskill your call centre agents.

1. For sales, balance is key

A firmly held belief is that the more leads allocated per seat, the more sales that seat will bring in. That’s incorrect. Give the agent too many leads, and they will give up too easily on a call, stopping at the first hurdle experienced. Too few leads mean they might miss out on sales opportunities. Finding the right balance is essential, bearing in mind that all leads should be made the most of.

2. Improve the opening script

In a call centre environment, agents must know how to capitalise on that brief period of time to get a foot in the door. The opening script is absolutely vital, and it can be enhanced by simply adding personalisation to it. Make sure the person is greeted by their name/surname, with agents encouraged to add some energy to the lines to make it stand out from other call clutter.

Related: The Festive Season Might Be Over, But There’s No Rest For Call Centres

3. Provide the origin of the lead

Tying in closely to the above, sales will improve if agents know where the lead comes from. If the lead is from a person who responded to an email campaign, it must be mentioned in the script. Once the person knows the call is related to a request they sent, they will immediately form rapport with the call centre agent.

4. Product refresh training

Much like a car sometimes need a retouch to bring back the shine, so too do call centre agents need a refresh on the products they are selling. Products also evolve, so providing agents with a short course on new benefits, while re-emphasising the key ones, is a great idea.

5. Objection handling

Closing a sale through the telephone is hard work, and call centre agents must be made aware of all the tricks of the trade to seal the deal. If a consumer is not keen, sell harder. If there are regular excuses, find their counterpoints. Is the client’s home language isiZulu? Find the agent who can help. Give them a reason to stay on the phone.

6. Stick to the appointment

Time is money they say, so if the person requested a call back on a specific time, make sure the appointment is kept. Customers don’t respond well if a time slot was missed and yet another call catches them at a bad time.

Related: Why Tyra Banks Cold-Called Zappos’s Tony Hsieh

7. Improve quote ratios

It’s easy – more quotes mean more sales. If the potential customer is provided with a quote, the chances of them converting to a sale is considerably more certain. Where the problem comes in, is guiding a lead through the call to be able to quote. For call centres this means tailoring the script to elegantly move from “Good morning, Mr. Williams,” to “Our life policy will cost you R350 per month”.

8. Incentivise!

With the holidays and Christmas coming up, everyone needs that extra cash, that’s why the time is now to really incentivise sales. Big paydays for agents and teams who sell the most will provide the kindling needed to get those sales fires burning.

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