Ask the Expert: Jan'08

  1. I have to perform the difficult and unpleasant task of telling someone he is being fired from from the job for non performance. How do I do it in the most humane fashion?

You can start by consulting HR to understand more about the personal circumstances of the individual being terminated in case you are not already aware. Also developing a plan with HR prior to the conversation with the employee is a good idea - thinking about what you are going to tell, making notes of all relevant points and keeping all related paperwork handy to ensure that the meeting is concluded comprehensively. Your attempt should be to keep the meeting short and concise with a focus on conveying facts as kindly as possible.

Start the meeting by telling the person straightway that he is being fired. Be candid and clear about the reasons for the same and the last working day. If there are instances like comments on his appraisals asking him to improve performance, refer to them to provide a valid case for the termination of his employment. He should know that he has been give adequate time to improve. If he wants to talk, listen to him patiently and allow him to ask any questions that he may have. However, at any point do not let him think that he can convince you to reverse the discussion. Incase the person becomes emotionally imbalanced it is important that you keep your emotions under check and calm him.

Do not undermine the seriousness of the discussion by trying to make small talk at the beginning of the meeting or be unfeeling by not offering your sympathy. Be respectful and compassionate during the entire meeting. Depending on how the discussion has gone conclude the meeting with a discussion of his strengths and jobs that will be most suitable for him. Offer him any help like reviewing his CV, giving placement agency contacts etc only if you are sure you can provide that help.


2. I am scheduled to attend a training program? I know I’ll have a good time. But I also want to want to ensure that I actually gain from the training programs I attend? How do I do that?

It is good that you want to make the most of the training programs that you attend. Following are some general ways to get value from a training program:-

  • Before the program: Any training program should help you improve your ability to contribute to your organization. So understand from your supervisor or HR what are the skills /concepts expected to be learnt during the training program and how are they going to help you at the workplace so that you are clear about the training program’s objectives. Be diligent about completing any pre training readings /exercises etc.
  • During the program: Be an enthusiastic learner - participate actively in discussions, clarify all doubts, do not let work issues interrupt your learning process etc.
  • At the end of the program: Review what you have learnt vis-à-vis the learning expectations that you had before the program. If they have not been met take guidance from the trainer on how to further develop in that area. Set some implementation objectives ie., things that you would like to try at the actual work place.
  • At work: Look for opportunities to apply all that is learnt. Take feedback from your supervisor and colleagues on whether you have improved in the area you were trained in. Make good use of any post training support offered by trainer.


3. A colleague of mine is trying to spoil my personal and professional image by trying to belittle belittle me. What do I do?

Is this a one off incident or series of incidents? If it is just one instance and does not repeat you can ignore it. The person may have just temporarily given vent to some frustration.

If it repeats several times then it is time to take action. Firstly make sure your colleague is actually trying to belittle you. It may just be his/her way of behaving with everybody. In which case he/she needs to be given feedback about how it is affecting others. You can do a reality check with other colleagues. If they too feel that you are the only one being targeted by this person then enduring it silently sends out a message that you can be treated badly.

Stand up for yourself and take action. Confront him/her calmly next time the instance occurs in front of you. If it takes place behind your back, confront the person with proof/ instances when he/she has belittled you. Tell him/her that it is not acceptable. If he/she still continues then continue to confront him/her till it stops. Report the matter to your supervisor. He/she is responsible for maintaining a workplace which is positive and such instances can be toxic for the workplace.