Firing an underperformer

Written by Darin Fox, 15 May 2020

You are Jordan, an up and coming rising star promoted into your first people management role last year at FastMoney, a mid-sized, financial management and advisory firm. FastMoney has a well-known culture of high-performance expectations, and a sink or swim mentality when it comes to its employees.

Jim is one of your inherited team members from when you were promoted into this team from another division. Despite your best efforts and enacting FastMoney’s performance management process, Jim regularly misses deadlines and the quality of his work is under-par, struggling to manage the high level of detail that is required. Jim does not dispute his low performance but believes with more time and training he will get there, but you have already spent more on his training than anyone else in the team. His team members are becoming increasingly frustrated as they have to regularly pick up the slack and the damage to his reputation in his team, and to some extent the organisation, may be irreparable. After consulting your manager, you both have decided it is time to terminate Jim’s employment due to ongoing poor performance

Alison, the Head of HR has got wind of this decision and has asked to interview you. There has been an increase in claims of unfair dismissal from terminated employees. Alison is worried another claim, especially in this highly sensitive Covid19 environment, could result in some unwanted media attention. The purpose of the interview is to give Alison confidence you have managed this situation fairly and adequately so that there can be no claim of unfair dismissal.

You prepare the night before the meeting with Alison by noting all the activities and steps you have undertaken over the last six months to give Jim a fair opportunity to meet the objectives and expectations of his role.

If you had managed his past performance perfectly over the past six months, what will you write in your notes to best prepare for your meeting with Alison?

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