Few managers — cultural or otherwise — savour the idea of “getting good” at dismissing

people. Nevertheless, you need to know how to terminate employees in a way that preserves

their dignity while meeting your organization’s needs, and ensures as smooth as possible

a transition out of the workplace. Even the most experienced managers feel stress and

anxiety when they go through the termination process. Having a clear idea of the process

and how to do it ef fectively won’t make it any more pleasant, but could prevent you

from making costly mistakes. The purpose of this module is to provide you, as a manager

in a cultural organization, with practical guidelines to help with the separation process.

Overview of Employee Terminations

There are three reasons why you should handle terminations in an informed and professional way:

1. The person being terminated deserves to be treated with respect and have

their dignity preserved, regardless of the circumstances. Also remember that

you may bear some responsibility for the situation if you should not have hired

the person in the first place (perhaps you ignored warning signs, or were

desperate to f ill the position and accepted less-than-ideal qualif ications, or

f ailed to do reference checks).

2. Many cultural organizations face severe financial constraints as an on-going

reality. They can ill-afford to pay the f inancial penalty that often goes with

handling a termination badly. The financial cost can be two-fold if the terminated

employee takes legal action: increased severance payments imposed by the

courts, and legal fees. These problems can be avoided by being aware of and

following a sound and legally defensible termination procedure.

3. Your remaining employees will be impacted by the termination — even

if they welcome it — and will be watching and expecting you to handle it

in a professional way.

The key to a “successful termination” begins with hiring, when you should clearly express

your expectations, and continues throughout the employer/employee relationship.

Performance feedback while the individual is in your organization — formal and informal

— also plays a critical role in a well-managed termination. But the actual termination

Remember that a termination impacts everyone – even the termination of someone that

is not liked will affect co-workers if it is not handled properly.

The best you can hope for when terminating someone is to have a chance meeting

sometime in the future and hear them say, “You know… leaving the theatre group was

the best thing that ever happened to me.” The worst thing that can happen is a long

drawn-out — and costly — legal process involving lawyers and government agencies.

Don’t forget: A former employee can be your best (or worse) marketing person in

terms of promoting your organization in the cultural community.

8th October 2007 From India, Coimbatore

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