You can fire toxic people but when it comes to culture, there’s no reset button.

8 october 2018

Every employee, no matter how long they’ve worked for you, wants to know they matter. Nothing says that quite like giving them the opportunity to grow. But what if employees don’t want to grow anymore? How can you motivate them or what are the alternatives. Enjoy this week’s selection of HR content on the topic of motivating employees and helping them grow even if the opportunities to grow are located outside your company.

What to do when an employee stops trying to grow?

We all know that we’re supposed to give the people we lead challenging assignments to keep them interested and engaged. But what do you do when someone you manage gets to the top of their learning curve — and doesn’t really want to be pushed any further?

As a manager, you might feel relieved that someone so valuable seems happy to stay where they are. There is a common mindset that favors leaving high-performing employees in place once they have mastered their domain, indefinitely reaping the rewards of their labor, but it ultimately has a downside! Think of the difference between a pond (unmoving, algae-covered, a breeding ground for mosquitoes) and a lively, bubbling stream. In the stream, there’s enough motion to keep the water fresh.

 Employees at the high end of their learning curve also require change.

When we have experts on our teams, it’s not about stepping back and letting them float, right?

According to this article this means it’s time to offer an assignment that really stretches them, or else to encourage them to move on. And we tend to agree…

If your employees’ current level of skill is high but not growing anymore, suggesting them to move to a new assignment, a new team, or a new project or even a new company can encourage them to them jump to a new learning curve. Because when people just ‘hang out’ at the top, their mastery can prevent others who are ready to grow from doing so.

You can read the whole article via this link

 A More Humane Approach to Firing People

When saying goodbye to employees we tend to follow the playbook drilled into us by our legal department: be direct, keep it short, walk the employee out the door, shut down access to email and so on… 

And, why not try a more humane approach to firing people?

The author of this second article we want to share with you this week, decided to try a new approach, one that that is both more humane and better for the company culture and the business. He calls it “transparent separation.” With transparent separations, you don’t blindside an under performing employee or fire him (her) outright. Instead, you encourage him (or her) to leave on his (her) own by letting him (her) know he (she) is going to be let go in time and needs to start looking for a new job asap..

There are three key constituencies who benefit from this approach: departing employees, their managers and a group that is seldom considered when someone is cut loose: the rest of the employees.

1) How departing employees benefit

Simply put, it is far easier for an employee to find a job if he (she)'s still employed. And asking someone to start looking for a new job elsewhere while still employed by you helps preserve their dignity and reputation, benefits that will serve you as well.

2) How managers and the company benefit

There are five key payoffs for managers and the firm when they give an employee time to find new work:

Improved relationships: relationships with employees who have gone through transparent separations have often actually strengthened.
Enhanced reputation: it makes employees chronically anxious when their managers are known for abrupt firings. With transparent separations, managers aren’t cast in this adversarial role.
Smoother transitions: separations that give an employee time to find a new role also give managers time to hire a good replacement.
Reduced legal risk: Many terminations risk litigation, and a manager’s responsibility is to minimize this. Employees may sue when they are angry, when they feel they’ve been treated unfairly, or when they’re struggling to find work and a lawsuit seems like a way to make ends meet. If an employee has the time and support need to find a new job and does, the threat of a lawsuit plummets.
New customers and clients: Transparent separations can benefit any relationship-based business. In consulting, law, advertising or accounting, any terminated employee can become a client, but they’re more likely to do that if their departure was positive and handled humanely.

3) How all employees benefit

Every employee has experienced having a colleague “disappeared.” Employees who feel they can be blindsided by a termination at any time are chronically anxious and will avoid innovation because failing feels too risky while employees who feel safe from the threat of unexpected termination tend to be happier, more creative, and less likely to preemptively leave.

There are a few situations however where this approach is to be avoided though. One is when a company is doing a mass reduction in force, laying off lots of employees. In these cases, is not always feasible to provide transparent separation to everyone, and if you can’t provide it to everyone, then it’s not advisable to provide it to a few. Another situation where transparent separation won’t work is when an employee is being let go because of an active problem that is harmful to other employees or the company, rather than, simply, because of suboptimal performance. For example, if a manager’s toxicity is having a negative impact on his or her employees, the manager needs to leave. Immediately.

Read the entire article via this link

This brings me to the topic of dealing with toxic people at work. And that’s what this 3rd article from this week is about:

Can You Fix a Toxic Culture Without Firing People?

Actually, it’s not an article or blog post, it’s a case study. And you can read it via this link

This case study shares the story of the CFO of a company who found that there are some problems a spreadsheet just can’t fix. In this case study it’s not the people who are toxic, but the culture. The CFO realized that when everything that’s been done the past years has been about the penny instead of the people, people can not be motivated to care anymore.

If the culture is toxic, you have to figure out a way to fix that first.
You can fire toxic people but when it comes to culture, there’s no reset button.

So what to do?

Are layoffs your best option to keep things moving in the right direction? Your bottom line will look better if you keep reducing overhead, but are you willing to letting your people down and using the numbers to justify it?

Or do you choose to try to fix the problem which will cost you extra money, but it could turn out to be the best money ever spent.

Should the CFO support the layoffs or advocate for culture change?

What do you think?


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