My first love is training. So, last night I developed and conducted some Trick or Treating Training. (For those of you who are rolling their eyes right now, rest assured that my husband rolled his eyes as well.) But, the Offspring is 4, and quite frankly knowing how to trick or treat is not inborn. So, here is what we did.
1. Explain the base rules: No trick or treating by yourself. You must wait for Dad to come home from work.
2. Explain the steps: Knock or ring door bell, wait until door opens, say “Trick or Treat!”, take one piece of candy if offered, otherwise accept whatever is placed in your bag, say thank you, turn and leave.
3. Practice, practice, practice. You would think this would have been unnecessary, but there are many, many steps and different ones were forgotten.
4. Throw in some variation. “What a beautiful costume! Are you Cinderella?” This threw the offspring through a loop and we had to tell her it was okay to say “No, I’m Princess Presto.
Easy enough, right? I’m a crack pot for making my child practice trick-or-treating. After all, it’s a basic skill and she could have picked it up by watching other children. And she went trick or treating last year–so what if it’s been 364 days since her last trip around the neighborhood. Right? Right?
Why am I writing this? Replace trick-or-treating with “termination” training. It’s not done regularly but for some reason HR tends to assume that because you terminated someone a year ago, you can do it again today without any additional help.
Wrong, wrong, wrong. Whenever you terminate someone from your company–whether it’s a layoff or a termination for cause–how the message is delivered can make a huge difference in how the employee responds and in the likelihood that a law suit will follow.
Here are some basic steps for training managers to conduct terminations. Surprisingly enough, the steps are similar to Trick or Treating.
1. Explain the base rules. Always have your i’s dotted and t’s crossed before you sit down. Have approval to the highest level necessary. Never do it by yourself. Always have a witness in the room. (Preferably HR, but another manager will do.) Understand your clear message. (This is a termination for cause, or this is a layoff–you’d be surprised how managers don’t realize there is as huge difference between these two.)
2. Explain the steps. Clear your calendar, have your witness in the office, invite the employee into your office, (If you don’t have an office, reserve a conference room where you can close the door. NO TERMINATIONS IN CUBES.) explain briefly and directly that the employee is being terminated. Do not hem and haw and do not leave any room for doubt. If appropriate, thank him for his service. Give any necessary paperwork to the employee. Tell employee he can go home for the rest of the day and can come back tomorrow for his things. Briefly answer questions, but keep meeting to 15 minutes or less.
3. Practice, practice, practice. Again, you would think this would be unnecessary–managers are smart and they can read a script. You’ve explained, let them go at it. But, this is wrong. Have you ever sat in a termination where your manager has stumbled so badly on the message that the poor employee thought he was being transferred to a new job? I have. It makes the termination even more painful.
4. Throw in some variation. How do you respond if the employee starts to cry? What if they start to scream? What if they run out of the office, hysterical? What if they threaten to sue? What if the employee argues that the company won’t be able to survive without him and that you’re a fool and furthermore, he’ll go to Sr. VP and get his job reinstated?
Conducting terminations is scary. Don’t make it worse by throwing the manager out there to “pick it up” by doing it a few times. Offer training and support.