D Murali

Employee counselling

D. Murali | Updated on June 15, 2012


Terminating or laying off an employee is an unpleasant task that a leader may have to at times perform in the best interest of the company. Yet, it can be done with utmost gentleness and compassion, says Mary Kay Ash in The Mary Kay Way: Timeless principles from America's greatest woman entrepreneur (www.wiley.com). Rather than firing someone angrily, with much yelling, you can begin by counselling the person who is misplaced in his or her role, she guides. “I give suggestions and set reasonable target dates so that he/ she may experience an immediate success. But if these efforts fail, I must consider what would be best for both the employee and the company.”

An example given in the book is of Jane, a public relations employee, who simply could not speak before a large audience. The author, putting herself in the place of the employee, suggests that the right thing would be to begin by saying, “Jane, you've been with us for two years, and each time I see you in a public presentation, I know that you are not comfortable. I've watched you suffer through the program as if it were an ordeal. I wish with all my heart that it weren't true, but Jane, I don't believe this is the spot for you.”

And this is followed by asking Jane if there is some other position she would like to try. What if there is no other challenge for her within the company? “We will actively help her in obtaining a position with a firm that will more readily utilise her talents. I will not discard an employee as if she were yesterday's newspaper,” avers Ash.

Lessons of enduring value.

Published on June 15, 2012

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