Time To Say Good-bye

October 1998


Time To Say Good-bye

Letting an employee go is like pulling a tooth – it's unpleasant but necessary

No one likes to pull the plug on a lackluster performer or one who's a bad fit, but in today's competitive jewelry market, more and more jewelers are finding they must. "I liked him so much as a person, but he just wasn't working out," one jeweler told Professional Jeweler.

Many employers bear the burden rather than let someone go, choosing "chronic pain over acute pain," Ed Binkerd, vice president of human resources for Republic Industries, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, told The Wall Street Journal.An employee might freak out or cry, some managers fear. Other managers have trouble articulating – even to themselves – what the problem is. Still others fear an employee will quit if given honest feedback, leaving the store understaffed until a replacement is found.

Managers must remember their first obligation is to the company's performance and well-being, says Eric Greenberg, director of management studies at the American Management Association. Feeling sorry for an underperformer is perfectly fine. But if he or she doesn't improve, the situation calls for action. Coworkers must be considered too – an underperformer or malcontent affects everyone's motivation, especially if staff members notice management does nothing about the problem.

Setting the stage for confronting a problem employee is simple to explain but painful to do. First, clearly explain to the employee what's wrong with his or her performance, says The Wall Street Journal's"Managing Your Career" expert Carol Hymowitz.

Next, explain what you do expect and work out a plan for performance improvement with a time limit. If there are no positive results after six months, the employee must leave.

If he or she resists, the last resort is firing.

One final caveat – don't feel so guilty about firing a non-performer that you reward his leaving with an overly generous severance package. When other employees find out, they'll wonder why bad behavior was rewarded. Though there's nothing wrong with a humane break, keep it reasonable for the sake of esprit de corps.

All Pumped Up and No Place to Go

Many seminar programs in the jewelry industry place great faith in motivational speakers for pumping up sales associates before a big selling season. But some skeptics think motivational gurus such as Tony Robbins and Zig Ziglar teach confidence without revealing it's the underlying know-how and specific abilities that really make a person a success, reports Steve Salerno in The Wall Street Journal. Visualizing success rather than actually working at it is what corporate consultant Jay Kurtz calls "running faster in the wrong direction." An occasional pep talk to a high achiever may help put him or her over the top. But for the mediocre performer, sales training, product knowledge and practice, practice, practice are the appropriate tools.



Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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