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How to deal with a layoff

Firing
One-on-one
Toxic employee
Underperformance
Feedback

6 December, 2017

Brett holds a one-on-one meeting with an underperforming employee to give them one last chance to improve, but the employee becomes combative and threatens to sue the company.

Problem

About a year ago, one of my employees had become toxic to the team. Usually, when I have to let someone go, I hold a one-on-one meeting with that person one month prior and warn them that they are performing below my expectations. We set some achievable but ambitious performance objectives together and write them down, and the person has one month to improve and show their goodwill. I have had people realize their mistakes and significantly improve within a month. However, on this occasion, it didn't happen this way. During our one-on-one meeting, instead of working with me to set some objectives, he quickly brought up how much money he would get if we fired him. Since he didn't believe that the amount was enough he said he sue the company.

Actions taken

I told him to take some time off to think quietly about it, and that when he came back he could have a conversation with the CEO. He went home, but didn't wait and called the CEO within a couple of hours of arriving home. As he didn't get the answer he had wanted in term of compensation, he again threatened to sue the company. The CEO immediately terminated his employment. I never heard about any lawsuits, so I think the lawsuit was just an empty threat.

Lessons learned

Even if this layoff was stormy, I think that the process I used is fair. It gives low-performing employees one last chance to adjust and show their efforts if they really want to stay. In this case, the employee was as toxic at work as during his layoff, and the team is now more efficient and is happier without him.


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