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Replacing A Poor Performer

Someone once said, “It is easier to hire someone than it is to let someone go.” Most of us would agree, and if you are trying not to miss a beat by having a new replacement employee start the day following the exit of the terminated poor performer, then you need good planning and a bit of luck. This is the first of several articles addressing the replacement of an employee.

Ducks in a Row
First things first. Have you correctly monitored the poor performance? Pete Moser and Jeff Hirsch of Robinson & Cole, LLP conducted a Labor and Employment Law workshop for the Northeast Laundry Association last year. Review their “Top 10” mistakes regarding Discipline and Evaluation along with my comments:

  1. Failure to document performance problems. Record keeping can be as simple as handwritten notes in a manila folder. Label it correctly and always include date and time.
  2. Lack of consistency. Use the same standards for all peer employees. Double standards can quickly affect morale, which affects productivity.
  3. Termination mindset, rather than improvement. Can you coach the person to reach and maintain a higher level of performance, or will their high maintenance always affect their performance? All of you who have transferred the poor performer to a different department or position raise your hand. All of you who succeeded with your experiment raise your hand again.
  4. Putting up with lousy performance. You fail to take disciplinary action because the employee is a “nice guy,” or because you don’t like the interviewing, hiring and training process. In either case, your success as a manager is based on your objectivity and your ability to interview, hire and train.
  5. Going overboard with discipline. Do not resort to the wrong type of discipline. For example, resorting to nitpicky memos says you are not able to verbally get your point across. Why is that?
  6. Failing to follow internal policies and procedures on HR issues, such as absenteeism and leave. Policies are there to help us maintain our consistency, and can be our biggest friend in the discipline process.
  7. Untruthful or non – existent performance evaluations. Ignoring the incompetence during review time does everyone an injustice. Not only does it enable the poor performer but also it sends a mixed message to your workforce and deteriorates your integrity.
  8. Failing to clearly communicate the consequences of actions and inaction by employees. If a discipline meeting is called for then take an extra ten minutes to type up the offense in question and the consequences in the offense being repeated. Set up the page for dual signatures.
  9. Letting personal issues, or employee’s personality affect judgment. Sound similar to Number 7? Consider it an emphasis on being objective with the employee.
  10. Failing to get human resources involved in employee problems at an early stage. The second opinion will help you balance your objectively. The additonal documentation and effort to correct the problem will minimize your vulnerability.

Some states require little in the way of cause for justifying termination. However what message does it send when a newly hired regional manager or general manager quickly terminates a direct report because “a decision has been made to go in a different direction.” Management style regarding terminations affects company culture, and prospective employees are attracted to positive company cultures.

Next Issue - The Confidential Replacement

Craig Lloyd represents, a management search firm specializing in the industrial / institutional laundry industry.  He holds a degree in Industrial Relations from Rider University and has been a Certified Personnel Consultant since 1979.

Quick Rinse - News From Around The World


NEW ORLEANS —Fire in a building that houses laundry equipment adjacent to a New Orleans Parish jail appears to have been electrical, said the sheriff’s office. There were no injuries and no evacuations necessary.