Sunday, November 20, 2011

Involuntary Separations… How you handle?

Involuntary separations should be handled very carefully.
Involuntary Separations are very difficult to handle.  As a HR professional, you need to check the trend of separations in the department. You need to be more critical on finding out the reasons.  In one organization, there was a trend of involuntary separations in HR department itself. Employees were not at all responsible, but expectations by the line manager from these employees were totally weird.

There are only two reasons for involuntary separations, either you are not managing the performance well or your recruitment is wrong.

In most of the cases such separations are not handled properly. The blame is always on the employee. HR roles is just to communicate and handover the document to the person in most of the cases. When you are retrenching any employee, you need to be more empathetic to the person. You have clause of “termination without assigning the reason” in your appointment letter. But just going by the clause is not enough. After all you have to be more carful about the employer brand and once your image is tarnished, then you would not get the right talent when you need them.

One of the manager always give the justification, he told once to employee that he took only 1 hour interview to decide on the hiring. Six month probation period is enough to decide the separation. He was absolutely right, but then his hiring or interview skill must be very poor.

If you are retrenching employees as per the Industrial Dispute Act (not by the title/designation, but the definition mentioned in the Act), then you may be in trouble, if somebody challenges the termination.  Somebody told me that you (means managers) should be tough and ruthless in the business. True but this does not mean that you should be unfair to the people.

Certain tips will be useful to handle such cases.

1)      Check your hiring practices: If you are terminating anybody within the period of six months, or due to the mismatch or behaviour of the employee then this means, your hiring procedure is very bad and not professional. If this is happening more in the organizations, then you should question the ability of your HR and even hiring manager. Recruitment and selection is not just an activity, but it is the process, holistic process. From each stage of the process, you should have the proper checks. Unfortunately HR plays just coordinating role in most of the organizations. HR executive, who is coordinating the function, is even not aware or trained properly. Most of the HR executives make recruitment process, a mess.
2)      Make expectations clear: Do you have the proper assessment system in place? Line managers should make the expectations clear. HR has to see whether the Job Description is explained, targets are set and proper orientation is conducted.  
3)      Document: Most of the people think that documentation taxes their time. Is it so? They do not have the priorities decided, or they just are not aware about the consequences. Documentations of expectations, (in term of KRA sheet, JD etc) should be clear and should be signed by line manager and an employee. If there are meetings on issues, minute of meeting should be documented.  The letter on agreed action should be communicated to the employee on time.
4)      Address the issue at early stage: Most of the issues are addressed when the assessment is due. On the last date of assessment line managers communicates HR that the person is not doing well and require certain actions. Was he sleeping? Has he communicated employee on the issue? Has this been documented? Every issue should be addressed at the early stage, you are not only being unfair to the person, but you are unfair to the organization also.
5)      Don’t be unfair: Don’t push your personal agenda on people. Give time to people to think and acclimatize with the function, organization. Show empathy and always be fair with people. Believe on the law of attraction, you can not be unfair with people always; otherwise, you will be the next person.
6)      Don’t victimize: As a part of organizational polices, discrimination should be strictly no. Don’t victimize the person because he is not your cheerleader.  Grow up and be professional.

Involuntary separations are frustrating to employees and their families and sometimes can be financial death for them. Line Managers are the important key people to decide the fate of their subordinate. Hence the role of HR is very crucial in such cases. HR should be always the Gate Keeper for the process and see that the process is followed properly.

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