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Sep 25

Crucial Terminations

You're Fired!For years I’ve had conversations with leaders who use words like “should” and “needs” when talking about taking action. Simply put, those words don’t cut it. They don’t support the team who has to deal with the odd behavior day after day. They don’t support the organization because too much time is wasted working around the employee instead of focusing on getting work done.

And candidly, they distract the leader from spending time with other team members because they are either dealing with the offending employee, or they spend an inordinate amount of time talking about taking action (needs/should) instead of actually leading and doing something about the situation.

Waiting = Ineffective Leadership

Why is it that so many leaders are wary to take the next step? Is confrontation that difficult? Could it be there leaders who often times move into their roles due to technical ability and also have a huge gap in their skill set related to confrontation?

If so, what is HR’s role to help? Did we miss something at the very beginning of the search process and allowed someone to be considered when they had this glaring omission?

Or, did a senior leader want to promote someone who they would “mentor” in their new role?

Either way, I haven’t met many leaders who are really strong when dealing with the most intense employee relations issues. Should they be though? Is that a realistic expectation?

Ultimately the answers to these questions don’t impact the situation at hand for many of us each day: plenty of talking and excuses, but very little action taken.

That is until things get too disruptive in the workplace…and then we know that HR instantly becomes every leader’s best friend.

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About the Mouth


Jay KuhnsJay Kuhns, SPHR has served as the Vice President of Human Resources for All Children’s Hospital/Johns Hopkins Medicine in St. Petersburg, FL since 2008, and has nearly two decades of human resources experience in the healthcare industry.  He gets fired up about lots of things including social media, his leadership blog NoExcusesHR, doing HR differently, and watching more hockey than anyone should.

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1 comment

  1. Randy Pennington

    Great post, Jay.

    I was a partner in the firm that created Positive Discipline back in the 1980’s. I still work with clients in this area through our Positive Performance Management process. We found that too often managers and employees look at discipline as punitive. In reality, the process of building organizational discipline should be something that everyone does on a regular basis.

    One reason for the delay, as you suggest, is that managers don’t have the skills. But, I’ve seen other issues as well:
    * The processes for discipline and termination are unclear, cumbersome, and ineffective
    * There is little organizational emphasis on using the discipline process as a development tool
    * Managers feel that they can save the person if they just give the employee a little more time
    * Managers are genuinely uncomfortable with confrontation – they would rather be liked than be effective and respected (this can happen even if the skills are present)

    You are correct that HR immediately becomes the manager’s best friend when they have a challenging situation. And, I applaud that you brought this up. When discipline is seen as something you help others create rather than something that you do to people, the dynamic around performance improvement (and termination) are changed.

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