Tag Archives: hr

How to fire employees? Firing employee? Firing employees? THE GUIDE

These days every now and then we hear about a friend/colleague getting fired or a company laying off its employees. Then the blame game phase, where the employer will blame the employees and the employees will blame the employer.

Firing employees is not easy

For any sane minded company (you should work with sane minded company only) firing is one of the most difficult part. I had interacted with some of the people for whom firing is just a way to improve his business. If somebody is not performing ask him to leave, thats all. Some people are good at firing, I am not. I have always struggled with firing employees and I have learned my lessons too. Firing is awful for the person doing the casting out and, surely, for the person being fired. Still it is important to let people go at times. I was a part of many discussions where we were passing the ball to each other for the firing announcement. I was also a part of the team that got fired. So I have been on both the sides of firing table and felt the heat exact same on both sides.

Why employees get fired

Just 4 reasons:

  1. For breaking laws.
  2. Non performance
  3. Economical problems
  4. Strategy changes by the company

Employees getting fired for breaking laws:

Now even this can be further divided into 2:

  • Being unethical: This is when people steal or cheat or sell off some proprietary things. This is highly unaccepted. In this case one doesn’t need to think twice. Hear the person, give a good and fast trial and call the fire alarm. In such firings it is important to announce the reason for firing really loudly. I remember a case with a very high profile US based company that started its operation in India. A senior person, very high performing person, was fired from the company for bribing the government officials for a contract. Company did get the contract. In any other company the person might have got appreciated with incentives as bribing is taken as a accepted practice in some part of the world. BUT this company wanted to make sure that its people understand the value behind its integrity, so fired the person loudly. Every person in the company got a mail with the reasons and was asked not to take this route ever. So in such cases do shout loud enough after firing. This will also settle the dust of confusion among the employees. Leave no place for gossips or misinterpretation after firing.
  • Breaking of other company rules: There can be other breaking of rules like coming late, or being arrogant to the seniors etc. In such cases I haven’t seen much of firing as most of the firing had non-performance as the real reason and breaking of company rules only as the surface reasons. In such cases before firing the person you need to give the person atleast 3 to 4 chances. Provide training to the person, assign a mentor and delegate the firing process to the mentor. After 3 to 4 chances do let go the person with proper explanations. Also it is advisable to clear this process with other employees. I will also suggest to drop a common mail to the company explaining the reasons and the process for such firing.

Firing employees for non performance

This is a much debatable topic when it comes to firing because of non performance. I have only seen few occasions when the person has accepted that he/she wasn’t performing. In most of the cases both the parties will disagree on the non-performance status. I recently interacted with a person who got fired from one of my known companies. I know their management really well. So he asked me, “Why did so and so fired me, I was one of the most performing person in the team and they fired me for non-performing”. I inquired and found many more reasons behind his firing including some level of politics (You know what I mean). But overall this guy wasn’t clear on “WHY I WAS FIRED FOR NON-PERFORMANCE”. There were instances were people were getting fired for non-performance and I advocated and mentored them. To the surprise of many they became the pillars to the company. Also there were instances when non-performers did not improve and did cost to the company because of my intervention.

With non-performance based firing one need to be very careful and make sure that their is no foul play involved. As in one of my previous post it mentioned that “People leave company because of their manager“, so can be the case with firing. There are many cases where the firing happened because the manager was not happy with certain thing (which can not be counted as non-performance at all), or the manager was feeling threatened because of the junis talent and so on. So in case of non-performance, let the HR department define the non-performance clearly. THE KEY IS CANDID. You need to be open to the employees as in what you mean by non-performance since performance is estimated based on results and results are depended on team work. At many times the job profile may not be well defined leading to non performance. Different people have different attitude towards work, some are task oriented or well-defined job description oriented, so you need to define their roles very preciously to avoid non-performance. A scrutiny of non-performance may also lead to improvement in work and work-flow processes.

In case of non-performance firing make sure that it doesn’t come to the person as a surprise. Let there be a complete open and candid process for such firing. (Also take it as lesson for your hiring, generally a lot of initial stage non-performance firing happens because of bad hiring)

Mass Employee firing due to economical problems

This can be really sad when all of a sudden the client flow dies off and the company find itself in a financial crisis. Company does try to fight back but at times nothing work out. In such cases, it is very important to involve the whole of the company to understand the problem and fight back. Recently I visited a CEO of a growing company, he explained me how his company went through financial crisis and how his employees helped him come out of it. In that conversation he did mention that he was very open to the employees about the financial crisis faced by the company. He attended few meetings with the whole team and explained them the issues faced by the company. Then everybody worked extra, analyzed the problems and brought the company out of financial crisis. In all possible cases one need to be very candid with the people in concern.

Even when the CEO explains the issues to the next level it sometimes doesn’t flow down to the core people group. CEO of the company need to ensure that the next level is passing on the information with the same intensity. I have access to some of the top companies in India and I have seen how their CEO sends regular group emails, be it a happy moment or a sad one (but most of these companies are tech companies and every employee has access to emails).

Point of the matter is that employer needs to involve the employee in these situations. Such layoffs should not come as a surprise to anyone.

Employee firing due to strategy changes by the company

This was another reason that I have personally witnessed where the company decided to stop a particular department as they felt it is not the right direction for the company. Such decisions can come out of management meetings and can hit the team as a surprise. But even in these cases company need to discuss with the team about such a move. After all success is all about fine tuning. It is easy to destroy but very difficult to create one. When the company shares its observations with the team then there can be a mutual discussion and sometimes it can come bring huge profit out of such departments and products. Even when the company need to take such decisions, it needs to make sure that the team members are given enough time to explore new opportunities in life.

Do not just delegate firing to the HR department

At many layouts and firing the top management is not at all seen, it is taken care by the HR department. Delegating layoffs or firing to the HR department is not very much advisable. I used to get involved in firing representing the management. Also CEOs and other senior members do jump in at serious firing cases. It is very important to involve the immediate managers and team members in the firing process. In some cases i will also advice the involvement of management including the CEO.

Overall summary on How to fire employees

  1. Make sure employees know the exact reason why they are getting fired.
  2. Make sure it doesn’t come to them as a surprise.
  3. Make sure you hear different version of the story before taking a decision. Allow fair trail.
  4. Make sure you don’t delegate firing to HR department alone.

What is more important, Personality or Character? Unprepared is the key

This has been a big debate for years. Personality gets the thing done, character adds the sincerity to it. (Please don’t confuse it with the moral character of a person :) )

Let’s take two example to understand:

  1. Giving one speech: Person X can just memorize the speech, get the speech from someone else and practice it enough to look it really real. Judges are judging it on the basis of Person ‘s presentation skill (personality) irrespective of whether Person X feels a damn about the words spoken. Character is when the person puts his opinion that he/she feels is correct. Person Y may have worked in the field has a lot to say from real life examples and so on. (Who will win the competition?) (Probably Person X, I have written many speeches for people, when I write, I write it from my feelings but when the person says it, it is merely the presentation.)
  2. Donating food to poor: Person X is very well dressed in white and is put all the things to be labeled as the best spiritual leader. He distributes the food as he was accompanying a friend. Person Y is also very well dressed but he is doing it as he feels about the poor. (Was there any difference between feeling for poor and just showing off? Probably not)

In both the above example’s Person X and Person Y has used their personalities to do the work. The inner feeling can be termed as Character (motive/feeling behind the action). So is personality more important or character?

Now lets take Person X and Person Y again.

  1. Surprise Speech and Q&A: There was a surprise speech on a similar topic. Person X fall short of words and ideas whereas Person Y is more comfortable with the speech. Even in the Q&A, Person Y does better than Person X (assuming that none of them prepared for the Q&A sessions)
  2. Need volunteer for regular food distribution for poor local organization Who will volunteer for this poor local organization? Probably Person Y as Person X was doing it without much feeling and Person Y feels about poor.

    So what is more important personality of character?
    I always advocated for both. Personality is required for a short term with short conversation impact whereas without character personality can fade out soon. At many times you don’t need character level work (Example: Presentation on goat (assuming that you are not in a goat business)), you just need to prepare enough so that you can score good marks in this presentation.

    But you will have to learn at character level for your related topic. When a student of marketing put a presentation on niche marketing, the purpose behind the presentation is that the person learns niche marketing really well, he/she will have to learn it in deep. Even after the presentation the person should go back and learn it at a character level. If the student doesn’t learn it at character level then later in some stage he/she will face a surprise question on niche marketing with some goodies for effective answers. For the presentation you may not be able to learn niche marketing at character level, for the presentation you just need to do enough at personality level to get enough marks.

    What is personality and character?

    Personality is the part of action that gets the work done. Character is the part of action that works behind the action. Some important points about personality and character:

  1. Personality is what makes the character: When you visit the orphanage you may not feel anything but your personality (where you went to orphanage) helps you see a lot of things, experience a lot of things and then teaches your self (Character part) about the importance of working with them. When you visit again and again, you may start feeling it from inside. Another example is: When you read a book or topic, you may not understand it but reading it again and again can make you a master of it. Reading is personality and understanding it is character.
  2. Character alone is useless: What if you feel for poor (Character level) but never takes an action (personality) to help them. What if you understand the subject like nobody else (Character level) but can’t explain it or use it (personality level).
  3. Personality alone is dangerous: A girl with great make up without original beauty can surprise her admirers when seen without a makeup. Doing makeup is good (personality level) but take care of things like health, drinking water, eating habits etc (that makes the beauty) is required for long term and true beauty (Character). So one will have to do makeup when required but one must be more careful in there day to day activities to develop a true beauty.
  4. Character doesn’t need preparations: When you know the subject and you have good presentation skills (Presentation skills again has to be at character level, not just for one speech but for any speech, it is developed slowly slowly), you can present yourself without any preparations.
  5. Character is the difficult part of both: Personality can be achieved quickly whereas character takes a lot of time to develop. You can learn how to distribute food to poor but make you feel for poor is a difficult and time taking job.
  6. Character is more desired: Character is more desired as a man with character can be taught the personalty but not vice-verse.
  7. Don’t be discouraged for character: I don’t feel good about the subject so whats the point in learning it. This is a common question. We all went through this at times but after reading it for a while (without much understanding) we started feeling it. There are many who comes to Church/Temple just for fun but someday the start feeling about it. There continuous actions (personality) taught their inner self(Character). So never get discouraged about not having the character just keep working with personality and keep focusing on developing character. When we worked in SEO field, at times we did not understand what we were doing, we just did what was instructed to us. BUT WE WENT BACK HOME AND LEARNED THE WHY PART OF WORK. So slowly we started developing the character.

Final word: Personality is very much required to get the work done. Character is very much required for long term and for unprepared times (Unprepared is the key, so keep developing everything at character level)

When did your boss become a boss?

(My apologies for not writing regularly, I am little too caught up with my new book, dawebmarketing.com and other initiatives)
I was reading “So When Did Your Boss Become an Authoritarian?” at bnet and thought of writing few lines here. I heard different stories about their bosses from many of my friends. They had huge respect for their bosses. (I am not naming the company because I am not sure of the facts but yes, I heard the same story from many people) They even recruited more than 100 people at one go. It was expanding and was a symbol of great success. But after few months people started leaving, the place became a horror story. Hiring and firing became a common daily routine. The reason, “our boss changed”. The company still exist and now they have even put a big advertisement to recruit new people. I wish it was one odd company. I head these same stories with different company name associated with it.

Some possible changes:

I can point some of the possible changes and reasons behind it:

  1. Tracking people: As the company grows, the bosses of small companies want to track everything happening. They will put more rules, reporting and everything possible to track the activities not checking the consequences and the need. Reason: They are not sure if everyone is working hard. Why it hurts: There are people who work by their own and are 80% responsible for company’s success, they get pissed off with these new things. The people who don’t work still don’t work.
  2. No time: Bosses have their own choice of work. They sometimes forget to give time to the added responsibilities. Earlier these problems did not exist, it poped up because of new developments. Reasons: Bosses don’t like this work. Why it hurts: Some people don’t answers to questions, which means a lot to them. Solution: Delegation of work.
  3. You changed: I liked this post my Narayan Murthy Sir. When you were young, new and had only one goal and that was to make your company grow, your boss liked you. But when you started asking money and time for your family, things changed. “He is no more the same person” says the boss and changes his perception towards you. He changed because you changes. Or Both changed because time changed.
  4. Communication gap: This is such a huge topic to talk about. Communication can be divided into 2 parts: “Visible” and “Invisible”. “The boss’s smile”, “Boss’s eyes”, “actions”.
    “trust” everything falls under invisible communication. When the company is small these communication happens more often. You understand your boss better but when the company grows the verbal communication takes over the invisible communication. The gap starts building up. Solution: Have lunch with them, have parties together, meet up with them, take classes etc. Even you can visit there house once in a while or start a family day in office.

There are more points, let me leave it for you :) have fun.

Do this vs Do this because

When you become leaders/managers you tend to use “Do this” phrase and rightly so as that falls under the profile. “Do this” is a very important phrase to get the things done but there is a better effective phrase, a little costlier and time taking but with high dividends, “Do this because”. I have seen that most of the managers don’t take time to explain the reason behind the steps taken. It applies to entrepreneurs/HR managers too.

Lets take an example: “Don’t use Personal Yahoo messengers in Office”, this is so obvious, we all know the reasons as well. But still many a times we ignore our subconscious knowledge. These are different approaches to get the work done in a better way.

  1. Do it method – “Don’t use Personal Yahoo messengers in Office”
  2. Do it because method – “Did you know that a small message only disturbs you for 3 seconds while it takes another 10 seconds to get back to work, after observing some team members we are not allowed to use personal yahoo messengers any more, Sorry for inconvenience to some”.
  3. Help us decide method: – “Did you know that a small message only disturbs you for 3 seconds while it takes another 10 seconds to get back to work, after observing some team members we are in a doubt to understand the use of yahoo messenger in our office. Should we be using it? Do we have any major advantages for it?”

There are various methods to make the same work effective. Approach is a very important part of our life. As we grow up in ladder, our decisions starts affecting more people, so we need to be using a better approach all the time. This is not diplomacy but a good approach allows you correct your mistake as well. Sometimes after following the third method “Help us decide method”, we may allow yahoo messengers again in office.

There is another aspect to this, when you describe the “because” part, the “do this” part becomes obvious and people tend to do it as a practice rather than a rule. Good night, will try to post more next Saturday (my official off days :) ) .. Happy week ahead

How to decide your new employer?

After I wrote “Questions for your employer (Hiring Manager)“, many people have asked me various questions like what about salary, career and so on. I will cover some more important questions that you should ask your prospective employee.

NOTE: Don’t ask these questions during your first rounds. Wait till you impress the company. Remember that these questions will always be appreciated. It is your right to interview the company as the company interviews you. It’s a mutual relationship. I suspect people who don’t scrutinize a company prior to joining it. I remember a time when after few rounds in a company I had several meetings with their founders, management and staffs, then I decided not to join them for the time being.

Join good company
(Does your company understands you?)

Try hard to join Good companies

There are only few good companies (where you enjoy work and create great things), try hard to join them. Good companies always want good people. Make a good relationship with them even before joining them. It’s not that tough to win competition with good teammates. “Hiring is the key” – Says Jack Welch of GE. Next section will help you answer, whether to join a company or not. It’s not a perfect formula but worked 80% of the time for me.

  1. What is their mission statement? – This reflects a lot about how the company is organized. Ideally people from the top management to the peon should know the mission statement and work accordingly . Many companies work on different things but everything is done without a proper mission statement. I have seen some small companies with great mission statements, it was so clear that you could sense their direction with just one single sentence. For a bigger company, the name brand name covers up the mission statement. For a bigger company, ask your prospective team about its mission. and then Match it with your profile/choice.
  2. Who manages the company? – Different departments should be managed by different people. If the company is a new startup, assume it to be a little messy but they should have a plan to delegate powers to departments. Ask this, “Who manages your HR policies?”, “How are the appraisals done?”, “Who decides the salary increment?”, “If someone is performing extremely well for the company, then ask the concerned person whether the company treats them same way as they treat other employees or do they have a special provision for them?”. You will be surprised to know that many big companies are struggling with these questions. A good company will always try to answer these questions as clearly as possible.
  3. How do you earn money? Who invests in the company? See if they are open about it. If company is not making good money then don’t expect goodies for yourself. Not earning at present is not a big issue but the outline of business plan can be shared (to an impressive level).

Questions about the company?

  1. Five day week: MY SUGGESTION is NOT TO JOIN any company that works 6 day a week. 6 days a week is almost impossible for hard working people. Sometimes people do work 7 days a week if needed but the company that wants its employees to work more than 5 days a week on a regular basis is certainly not a people focused company. One doesn’t need to work XXX hours to complete a task but they surely need to work YYY fresh hours to make it successful, where YYY < XXX for sure. One day off a week keeps employees fresh. The company that doesn't understand this doesn't deserve good heads, lend them your hands and legs, brains doesn't work for 6 days. I seriously mean it.
  2. How many leaves? Compare it with the industry standards. This is also a big factor that you should consider.
  3. Salary break up and Incentives Ask for a clear break up. Promises made is of no use, get it written in black and white. “You will get so and so when so and so happens”, better get it written.
  4. Increments This needs a clear guidelines. I know many who say, “I will get an increment only if my boss feels so“. This needs to change, one should get one deserves. If companies don’t have such policies they certainly needs to come up with one. Also see if promotions are performance based.

Ideal companies rarely exists, so one needs to get some of the mix and keep working towards a company that respects its people. See some of the stories that speaks about its culture (basically some viewpoints :) )

  • Former Google chef tells about Google.
  • I don’t know whether the claims are true but it says “mail sent by Narayan Murthy to all Infosys staff”

    Naryan murthy on working late

    It’s half past 8 in the office but the lights are still on…
    PCs still running, coffee machines still buzzing…
    And who’s at work? Most of them ??? Take a closer look…

    All or most specimens are ??
    Something male species of the human race…

    Look closer… again all or most of them are bachelors…

    And why are they sitting late? Working hard? No way!!!
    Any guesses???
    Let’s ask one of them…
    Here’s what he says… “What’s there 2 do after going home…Here we get to surf, AC, phone, food, coffee that is why I am working late…Importantly no bossssssss!!!!!!!!!!!”

    This is the scene in most research centers and software companies and other off-shore offices.

    Bachelors “Time-passing” during late hours in the office just bcoz they say they’ve nothing else to do…
    Now what r the consequences…

    “Working” (for the record only) late hours soon becomes part of the institute or company culture.

    With bosses more than eager to provide support to those “working” late in the form of taxi vouchers, food vouchers and of course good feedback, (oh, he’s a hard worker… goes home only to change..!!).
    They aren’t helping things too…

    To hell with bosses who don’t understand the difference between “sitting” late and “working” late!!!

    Very soon, the boss start expecting all employees to put in extra working hours.

    So, My dear Bachelors let me tell you, life changes when u get married and start having a family… office is no longer a priority, family is… and
    That’s when the problem starts… b’coz u start having commitments at home too.

    For your boss, the earlier “hardworking” guy suddenly seems to become a “early leaver” even if u leave an hour after regular time… after doing the same amount of work.

    People leaving on time after doing their tasks for the day are labelled as work-shirkers…

    Girls who thankfully always (its changing nowadays… though) leave on time are labelled as “not up to it”. All the while, the bachelors pat their own backs and carry on “working” not realizing that they r spoiling the work culture at their own place and never realize that they would have to regret at one point of time.

    So what’s the moral of the story??
    * Very clear, LEAVE ON TIME!!!
    * Never put in extra time ” unless really needed ”
    * Don’t stay back unnecessarily and spoil your company work culture which will in turn cause inconvenience to you and your colleagues.

    There are hundred other things to do in the evening..

    Learn music…

    Learn a foreign language…

    Try a sport… TT, cricket………

    Importantly,get a girl friend or boy friend, take him/her around town…

    * And for heaven’s sake, net cafe rates have dropped to an all-time low (plus, no fire-walls) and try cooking for a change.

    Take a tip from the Smirnoff ad: *”Life’s calling, where are you??”*

    IT’S A TYPICAL INDIAN MENTALITY THAT WORKING FOR LONG HOURS MEANS VERY HARD WORKING & 100% COMMITMENT ETC.

    PEOPLE WHO REGULARLY SIT LATE IN THE OFFICE DON’T KNOW TO MANAGE THEIR TIME. SIMPLE !

    Regards,
    NARAYAN MURTHY.