The Under Achiever: Mentor or Terminate? Part 1

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This article originally appeared in the 2017 summer issue of OGR’s Independent magazine. This is part 1 of a 2 part series.

As a business owner or manager, there are times when you’re faced with employee performance issues. These employees are usually not your worst employees or brightest stars. They did not commit fraud or anything that would pexels-photo-70292lead you to move to immediate termination. They just don’t seem to be the most comfortable fit. Owners and managers eventually reach a point where they feel they must make a difficult decision: Should they let an employee go and find a replacement or should they hope to help them improve their less-than-stellar performance through mentorship? Here are a few questions that you should ask yourself when determining whether to mentor or terminate an employee: 

Are your personal feelings impacting the decision about an employee’s job performance?

Perception is a powerful but subjective issue. The question becomes, “can this subjective issue turn into an objective observation?” If possible, have the employee’s performance reviewed, based on the employee’s job description, by an objective individual. If the objective reviewer concludes that the employee is performing several of the key elements of their job in an adequate fashion then the question is, “why did termination come to mind? ” Is this a personal decision that can be addressed through mentoring? Or, if performance is still the key factor, can the performance issues be mentored?

Are my expectations reasonable given the position and the workload?

Frequently, the demand on employees or on the position they fill changes due to increased calls or staffing changes within the business. When you have an employee who is sitting on the bubble of being adequate, pull out their job description and review it. Determine whether or not your expectations for the employee and for the position are reasonable for the work load. Make adjustments as needed.

Can this employee improve? Do they want to improve?

If your expectations are reasonable, share with the employee how he/she is failing to meet them and how your expectations can be successfully met. This begins the process of mentorship. Whether or not an employee can improve or wants to improve is a difficult question to answer. Many employees tell you they want to improve but take no action to do so. It is important when mentoring to provide very specific examples of how to improve performance in certain areas. Meet with the employee at frequent intervals to discuss progress. Have the first follow-up meeting two weeks after the first review meeting so you can provide a clear indication of whether or not you are seeing any improvement. If you fail to see any or little improvement during the follow-up meetings, this is clear indication that mentoring is not working and you need to move to termination.

Is it possible they could be successful elsewhere in the business?

Sometimes, it is not just mentoring an employee in their current position that should be considered. It is possible they are a “round peg in a square hole”? Have you considered that they may be better suited for another position? For example, is a funeral director better suited to do preneed sales? Obviously, funeral services owners and managers cannot create an endless stream of job positions for employees. However, if you have other positions available, you may consider them before termination.

Stay tuned for next week’s post on deciding between mentorship and termination. 


ramsey-fixed
By Stephanie Ramsey, The Foresight Companies, LLC

Stephanie Ramsey is the HR Specialist for The Foresight
Companies, LLC, an OGR supply partner.

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