Being in the IT Enabled
industry with highest attrition levels, firing an employee
would be like a pinch of salt on an open wound. But sometimes, a
small pinch of salt is required on the wound to stop it from getting
According to statistics compiled by the National Human Resource
Development Network, attrition rates in IT-enabled business
process outsourcing sector have come down from 30-33 per cent being
witnessed off late to about 25 per cent now. Despite this being
a much discussed issue, firing is essential because retention of
non performers affects group morale. Poor employees reduce team
performance by wasting time and efforts of other workers.
Often managers have to have this most hated and highly uncomfortable
confrontation with an employee; firing. The response that the manager
will get is quite unpredictable, as some may agree with on the failures
and some may want to go on an extended argument, sometimes getting
a little "physical".
The manager has to be fully prepared before firing someone
as to how he handles this demanding confrontation can decide how
the rest of the employees look upon the manager and the company
as a whole.
To Fire an Employee?
Though most of the
time the manager is aware of the guidelines formulated by the company
on firing, it can still be quite subjective. Generally, any employee
who is not contributing to the overall goals of the company should
be asked to leave. However, not before the following points are
a) When the
employee is not contributing towards the overall goal
of the company, he needs to be made aware of this fact and
helped to work in the right direction.
b) If the employee is still not able to bring his performance
up to the acceptable levels, a thorough investigation
should be made to assess if he needs any training. Investigation
can be made through discussions, meetings, feedback from the
immediate supervisor, client's feedback etc.
c) After providing the training, if the employee is
still not able to come up to the acceptable levels, the
manager has to go through a "Progressive Discipline Process".
d) The purpose
of this progressive discipline process is to ensure that low performance
is not because of a factor controlled by the company. These
could be like the hiring process, the training process, evaluation
methods being followed or man management issues in the team.
e) The Employee Relations Manager has to be in the loop as
that ensures both the Manager and the employee get a fair deal.
How To Fire An Employee?
While firing has
to be a last resort measure, many times fearing the repercussions,
many managers delay firing, resulting in "baggage"
in the team.
If the reason to fire an employee is not because of his activities
as mentioned and agreed upon in the employee hand book but is solely
because of underperformance, by carefully working with the employee,
many performance shortcomings can be resolved.
If all help and support does not work, the manager must give
strong verbal warning that specifies expected work quality or attitude
improvement and cites specific suggestions for effecting such an
improvement. If the employee shows no improvement, issue a written
warning. Most of the time employees just need to be "shaken
up" to improve their performance and a written warning does
this magic, most often than not.
After a written notice, if the employee does not show any improvement,
involve the Human Resource and Employee Relations and let the employee
know that he is a round peg in a square hole. By following the above
procedure, the manager has all papers in place to justify firing.
Firing and Attrition
Firing and Attrition
are very much related to each other, though distantly. In both these
cases, the manager looses trained manpower.
When Jack Welsh, ex-CEO of GE instituted his policy of yearly appraisals-generously
rewarding the top 20% 'A' performers, developing the middle 70%
'Bs', and firing the bottom 10% 'Cs', he certainly did not have
the IT Enabled operation in mind. Forget firing the bottom 10%,
in the current situation, companies would talk about re-training
the bottom 10% in an endeavor to curb the high attrition rates.
firing can look like attrition. In a recent news update,
India's largest software service company, lost about 1000
employees at the end of first quarter of 2005. According to
sources, this is the result of a carefully planned salary
model called the Economic Value-added model that came into
existence two years ago. This two year cycle model which involves
assessment, retraining and exit discussions saw the major
percentage those quitting as non-performers. They were given
low ranking for the second year in a row for not showing any
sign of improvement despite undergoing mentorship programme.
Looking at firing
and attrition together in a different light, firing can be an
excellent tool to contain attrition. Attrition can simply
be defined as employee leaving his current job due to reasons
like, job pressure, health problems, personal reasons, inefficient
boss, lack of job security etc. All the above reasons are interlinked
and can be the reasons for good workers to quit.
If the team has under-performers
who despite given sufficient support and training is unable to perform,
but they continue to be part of the team damage the morale of the
team. A performer will not want to be part of the team which has
non-performers because he will have to compensate for the non performer,
thereby increasing his job output/pressure. A continuous job pressure
results in health problems. Having frequent health problems not
only reduces his performance, but also affects him financially.
At this juncture, the performer realizes that he is working with
an inefficient manager who is not capable of "cleaning up"
the team by firing non-performers. With the above, the performer
employee feels insecure and resigns.
can be an efficient tool to contain attrition.
To Fellow Employees
By following the Progressive Discipline Process, the manager
can demonstrate to the rest of the employees that he is fair and
willing to give every employee a chance to improve. It is wrong
to assume that this entire process happens without the knowledge
of the other employees, even though they were not officially informed.
As they would realize that the entire process was fair, they would
feel that they have a mature and understanding management (represented
by the manager).
Writer: Vijay Bhargav
A.N. is a commerce graduate and has been in the offshoring
and outsourcing industry for the last 8+ years. Vijay has been involved
in setting up of back office units and managing operations for the
MNC's setting shops in India. Vijay has experience working with
some of the best back office companies in the domains of Insurance,
Healthcare and Background Screening. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org