The end of the college football
season frequently brings the terminations of coaches as schools
review the season and their programs. Such is the case for Texas A&M.
The university fired Mike Sherman as the head football coach on Thursday.
The firing, however, will not serve as a model for employers.
SB Nation reported that
the method and the timing were, to say the least, not good. Apparently
Sherman had met with university officials earlier on Thursday about his status;
he was given no guarantees. That evening, Sherman went to a recruit's
house and after pulling into the driveway, he received a phone call
from the athletic director firing him. It seems that the university was
concerned that its plans had been leaked to the media. Sherman later
commented, " I think we are better than that." It appears his
players and family knew before he did.
Terminating an employee is difficult; is stressful; and well out of the comfort
zone of most supervisors. Technology has made it possible to terminate
without having to face the person. Employers have used the telephone and
have even emailed employees
with the bad news. No favorable media can come from technology
terminations. Some companies leave the task to others, like
the fictional Ryan
Bingham, and avoid any contact with the employee.
So what can be learned from the Texas A&M method? First, do it in
person (with a witness). It is not easy but then neither is
receiving the bad news.
Second, do it promptly after the decision is made. Some employers want
the employee to make the last sales call; finish the project; or work until a
replacement is found. Not a good idea. Inevitably, as with Texas
A&M, something will happen that will put the employer in
an awkward position or worse....like lying to a customer; addressing
questions about vacations or leave time; or heaven forbid, be given
a request FMLA leave.
Third, give the employee the reason. While we still live in an at will
world, we also live in a world of state and federal laws creating numerous
protected classes. If an employer had a good enough reason to terminate
an employee, it should not be reluctant to tell it. Chances are it will
have to sooner or later.
How an employee is terminated...whether with respect, compassion, and candor or
by remote control....may well determine whether it marks the end of the
employment relationship or the beginning of the litigation relationship.
For additional Labor and Employment law insights
Holmquist , visit the Michigan Employment Law
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