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Outplacement As A Tool To Build Values And Culture

You are trying to build a strong culture and a high performance team but there is one or more than one employees who are making it difficult for you to reach your objective. These employees can be high achievers but their behavior towards others is creating roadblocks to team cohesion and productivity.

This presents managers with a difficult decision. Should they offer outplacement to good to high performing employees? There is almost always that outplacement is the best solution because it quickly brings back team unity and removes threats to the culture.

The following is a great article written by Adele Lynn, an EQ thought leader and The Frontier Group strategic partner, on managing an organization based on values versus performance.

In Search of Honor - Can You Fire an Employee For Inappropriate Values?

Author: Adele B. Lynn

About a year ago, George had just been assigned as the 2nd shift supervisor at a bank operations center. His crew was at each other’s throats.

They were acting petty and competitive. Some members didn’t even speak to each other. This situation was, in no uncertain terms, a mess! George clearly established the workplace values he expected. These included things like teamwork, open communications, and respect.

Together, the work group and George defined the behaviors that reflected these values. He scheduled training on effective communications, conflict resolution, and how to contribute as a team member. After a long year of coaching, and re-coaching, restating the expectations, and defining and redefining acceptable behaviors that reflected the defined values, these people were humming. They were a TEAM, except for Nicole.

George had spent numerous hours with Nicole. He had tried every way he could think of to help her to become part of the team. Unfortunately, she just didn’t get it. Over and over, her behaviors were downright destructive. She tried to pull people apart, she constantly talked about others, and she tried to inflame others by spreading rumors. No amount of coaching or training was making an impact.

As George tried with a genuine heart to pull her into the team, finally, after a great deal of frustration, he began documenting his discussions with Nicole. Finally, George fired Nicole for conduct that was not conducive to the workplace values. The corporate attorneys were nervous.

This person had excellent job statistics. Her production was above average. All past performance appraisals were based on job statistics and Nicole’s were above average. George’s boss understood and supported the dismissal and the company took a brave step toward upholding the workplace values.

The question posed was, “Can you fire someone for inappropriate values?”

The answer is, “Yes, but…” Here are the buts:

Management must be sure that the values are workplace values, not values related to personal morality. For example, firing someone for sleeping with a co-worker’s husband is a personal morality issue, not a workplace value. Workplace values are issues such as respect for co-workers, honesty, teamwork, open mindedness, cleanliness and customer service.

Workplace values should be clearly communicated. If you write the workplace values at a management retreat and put them in a desk drawer, you’re not going to be able to uphold a dismissal. These values have to be clearly communicated to the workforce.

Because the meaning of values can have multiple interpretations, it is important that ample discussion and examples related to each value be communicated. In other words, management has to be certain that employees understand what the value “looks like” in the workplace. If not, employee may cry foul if dismissed for something they do not understand as being unacceptable. (They may cry foul anyway, but if management has and can demonstrate that communication has taken place around these issues, they will be prepared to defend the action.)

Training to support the behaviors related to the workplace values should also be integrated into the effort. In other words, if we believe that teamwork is an important workplace value, we should provide training to help employees know how to be an effective team member. Training also serves to reinforce the expectation.

Management’s actions must be consistent. If we dismiss Jane for lack of respect and Susan practices the same behavior, we’re in trouble. We must be able to defend our actions based on sound management practices.

On most issues related to values, we must use progressive discipline measures on route to termination. The exception may be severe honesty issues – such as theft or falsifying records.

Performance appraisals should reflect values as well as production statistics. Management must clearly document performance problems related to values.

Workplace values can provide important guidelines and help for managers who struggle with the “attitude” problems of yesterday. Yesterday, when we had people with a “bad attitude,” we often felt inadequate to address these issues, especially if these people had good job performance in other areas.

Today, management can strengthen their position and ultimately their workforce by squarely addressing values and setting expectations for workers related to appropriate workplace values.

If management chooses not to act on inappropriate workplace values, management, in reality, is choosing to condone inappropriate behavior.

One of Disney’s great values is cleanliness. Could Disney have become a world class leader if its parks were filthy? And, could Disney ignore poor performance and lack of adherence to its cleanliness value and still claim it as a value?

Core values define who and what a company is all about. They define how you do business. What are your company’s core values?

Do your employees know what your company’s values are? Do you live them each day? What do you do if someone chooses not to?

Join us as we go IN SEARCH OF HONOR…

In Search of Honor is a column written by Adele B. Lynn.

Adele is the author of the book In Search of Honor – Lessons from Workers on How to Build Trust (Bajon House Publishing) ISBN 0-9664084-4-6.

2015. Adele B. Lynn. Lynn Leadership Group. All rights reserved.