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Firing-Discipline Interview

October 7, 2019

Here are some answers and questions about Firing/Discipline from Galen McMurtrey at Elysium Energy.

1. What are automatic grounds for termination at your workplace?

Fraudulent Acts, Theft, Customer Abuse, Other Illegal acts resulting in criminal prosecution

2.What is the process you use to discipline an employee who is constantly late?

Employee is called and given notice that they are late too often and then set up on an improvement plan over a 30-60 day period.  At the end of the designated period they are review again.  If no progress they will be let go or given another probationary period if some progress has been made.

3.What is the hardest part of disciplining an employee and firing an employee for you?

The fact that it will usually impact not only the individual but many others who rely on the employee for their daily resources.

4.What tactics have you found to be effective when disciplining/firing an employee?

Establish firm/s identifiable responsibilities and job descriptions to use as a means to identify the challenges an employee is facing  so that there can be specific and detailed conversations about the issues.  Once that is established all future disciplinary matters can be addressed and resolved more effectively as everyone has a good knowledge of it beforehand and generally no one is surprised at the results.  Also establishing goals and what lies ahead for an employee gives a positive light to the employee instead of all negative. This keeps most employees motivated toward the positive side and not focused on the negative.

5.What are good indicators which help you know if your disciplinary actions have been effective or not?

The employee starts to focus on the set goals and progressing toward the higher end of expectations and not repeating the same pattern that caused the disciplinary action.  Also the general disposition of the person can be good indicator as to whether the issue is related to work or something outside of work, both of which should be handled a little differently.

6.When you need to discipline an employee, do you have someone else there to help be a mediator?

Absolute requirement to have someone else involved, no exceptions!!

7.How many “chances” do you give an employee before they are terminated?

Depends on what the disciplinary action is and how the employee responds to the probationary period and requirements.  Usually it is a 3 step process.  1. Recognized and Discuss without warning.  2.  Identify specifics and set up probationary period and a PIP (Performance Improvement Plan) 3.  Extended probationary period or termination followed by termination.

8.What is the main reason why you need to fire an employee?

-Significant breach of company policies that affect customers or working environment that the employee is involved in.  This would include sexual harassment, fraudulent acts and intentional undermining the company’s reputation.

-After firing an employee how does the workplace change/react to the firing?

-It usually improves as a decline in an employee’s attitude also drags down the morale of the group and impacts customer service.

9.When a termination needs to happen due to budget issues, how do you choose which employee it will be?

A balanced approach to keep the long-term continuity in place, meaning not necessarily the newest staff only, but some experience staff as well.  This is also why you need to have goals and job descriptions set so that you can utilize that detail to determine the specific needs for long-term performance who is the best employees to help fill in those areas.  Taking this approach has the tendency to preserve the greater whole for the longest period of time.

10.How do you approach the conversation when firing an employee? Do you explain in depth the reasons why they are being fired? 

When the firing is for cause, the detail has already been presented through the first two stops of PIP and when the 3rd meeting happens when there is not improvement, the meeting is very short and to the point without any additional explanation other than they did not meet the requirements.

When it is for gross misconduct they are immediately escorted out and an officer of the company or law will bring them their personal belongings to them later.

When is for budget or market conditions there is more of a discussion identifying the challenges and they are told they are eligible for rehire and sometimes severance pay.

11.If your company was really short-staffed but an employee gives countless reasons to be terminated would you proceed with firing them or keep them because you can’t afford to lose an employee?

Would still fire the employee and then provide opportunity for remaining employees to pick up the slack with additional short term compensation.  Usually the staff will be glad to see the bad employee go and will naturally pick up the slack with the improvement in the working environment.

 

I learned a lot from this interview. It was interesting to get a different perspective on the firing/discipline process from someone who deals with this in their position. I think that the answers he provided were similar to what I would expect for a professional organization when approaching firing/discipline with an employee. I think the thing I hadn’t thought about as much was how much they will focus more on an employee’s performance over their situation and maybe work with them? It is hard to work with an employee who is slacking, but I can see the benefit for the company to just cut them and let others pick up the slack.

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