Employment-at Will Practices?

Typically the so called 'At-WILL CONCEPT' in many potential involuntary termination actions is being advocated as an expeditious method of a quick termination irrespective of position level, which is in obvious contrast to a process which embraces a progressive coaching/rehabilitative approach with sequential steps of documented counseling...Perhaps a conversation of the appropriate steps to deploy being mindful of potential legal and employee relation ramifications will generate a provocative discussion. In many of today's organizational cultures CEO's are becoming more impatient, less tolerant of a 'Best Practices' approach..comments?

Answer

Bob Gately (Owner, Gately Consulting)
Hello Dr. Pardue:

Perhaps impatient, less tolerant CEOs have tried being patient and tolerant of poor job performance but the results are so poor that they want to speed things up.

When employers hire for competence and fire for poor job performance the problem is in the employee selection process. Fix the employee selection process and CEOs won't need to be patient and tolerant.

Got to run, more later if you wish.
1 Additional Answer
Charlie Judy (Global Director, HR Strategy & Operations, Navigant)
In all my experience terminating employees - and unfortunately I have a lot of it - it comes down to one thing and one thing only: risk management. It's less about laws and regulations - those leave too much room for interpretation anyway; it's not about 'employment at will' - it may be the basis for hiring and firing practices, but all courts disregard it when it comes to discrimination or inappropriate treatment. It's more about how much risk the organization (and it's CEO) is willing to take. Having well documented performance records certainly helps. Being able to demonstrate like performers were/are terminated in a consistent fashion helps even more. Creating a culture where feedback is continual - whether it's documented or not - helps even more than that. Giving an employee a 'warning' or putting them on a 'Performance Improvement Plan' helps only if you're also willing to demonstrate you helped them with it and didn't leave them hanging. And never have a defined date for performance in the plan - always use the terminology 'failure to demonstrate immediate and sustained improvement will result in additional employment action up to and including termination'. that gives the employer more flexibility in determining how much time/patience they have in dealing with the performance issues. Of course, providing some transition support (i.e. severance) helps to mitigate risk of any negative recourse against the organization. Being professional, fair, and supportive during the termination proceedings can help more than you might think. But even the best of intentions can fall short. We're talking about humans here. It is impossible for any organization to say whether their preparation will eliminate the risk or whether their lack of preparation will create risk. But if in your heart of hearts you can all agree that you are terminating this person for legitimate business reasons and only legitimate business reasons, then you've done the bare minimum of what you must do to protect the company and its employees. Wishy washy enough for you? Good, cuz that's the realm of employment law.
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