If you are looking for help in hiring, employee management or HR, you might want to check out our book, let go to GROW: why some businesses thrive and others fail to reach their potential. In this award-winning book, we cover how to hire the right employees, how to manage employees and how to select and develop managers for your company.

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Hiring, Employee Mgt, HR

manager photoQ. I've reached the difficult decision that I need to terminate one of my employees. What is the best way to handle this?

A. Terminating an employee is a big decision and never easy for either party. When making a decision to dismiss an employee, we suggest the following three steps:

Make sure that you gave the employee the opportunity to succeed. Ask yourself . . .

1. Did I carefully and specifically explain my expectations to the employee and check that the expectations were understood?

2. Did I remove any roadblocks, internal to the company, which might have kept the employee from succeeding?

3. Did I give the employee sufficient training and enough time to acquire and practice necessary skills?

4. Did I motivate the employee to succeed including giving positive and negative feedback as appropriate?

If you can answer yes to these questions and the employee is still underperforming, it may be time to make a change.

Make sure that you protect your organization. Virginia, like many states is “at will.” This means that you can terminate an employee for any reason or no reason at all. However, there are exceptions to this doctrine. Most of these have to do with terminations for discriminatory reasons. If you are not sure, speak to a qualified attorney or HR specialist.

terminatedQ. I'm sorry to say it, but the owner of the company where I work is the quint essential micro manager. He has hired three managers (I'm one of them), but he won't give us any decision making authority. I'm not sure why he won't delegate, but it's killing our company. Because everything has to go through the boss, we can't respond quickly enough. What would you recommend?

A. In the process of doing research for our book, Let Go to Grow; why some businesses thrive and others fail to reach their potential , we interviewed the owners of more than 100 small and midsize businesses. One of the consistent patterns we found was that entrepreneurs had difficulty effectively delegating decision-making authority. The primary reason is that delegating decision-making authority means giving up a measure of control and that’s hard for many entrepreneurs.

Yet, if their businesses are to continue to grow, these owners will have to overcome their reticence to let go. Failure to do so will mean that the principal’s workload will continue to increase. At some point, they will be overwhelmed and out of capacity. These business owners will unwittingly become the constraint to growth in their own businesses.

This is a bad situation, but the only thing worse than not delegating when it’s needed is delegating before the proper infrastructure is in place. Doing so can send the business spiraling out of control before the owner realizing what is happening―we’ve seen it all too frequently. Putting the proper infrastructure in place to allow safe delegation means three things:

lying canidate
Q. How do you know if you hired the right person?

A . The short answer is that you know you hired the right person when he or she is delivering the results you reasonably expect, want, and need within the cultural norms of your organization. However, you need to make sure that you are setting your employee up to succeed. To do this, follow these five steps:

shutterstock 172002743Q. Would you please give us your thoughts on how best to handle employment gaps? Right now, I am looking for a new position and I very honestly listed the reason for departure from a position several years ago as TWINS. How would you recommend addressing these family gaps and still demonstrate that you are committed to your professional life even if you have a gap?

A. Gaps in employment on a resume can be a red flag for some hiring managers. They can raise concerns about why the candidate wasn’t working. Did he or she lack the ambition to secure a job? Gaps can also raise concerns about skill degradation. An office worker, who has not worked for the past several years because he or she has been raising a family, caring for a sick relative or other completely legitimate reasons, may be seen as lacking skills in current technology. If you have a gap in your employment history, you’ll have to decide how to handle it on your resume. Below are three tips that will help.

Interview1. Someone told me that I can’t ask female applicants whether or not they have children or what their childcare arrangements are. But, I need to know if they are going to come to work on time. What can I ask?

a. In our opinion, asking applicants (female or male) whether they have children is not a good practice. That’s a can of worms that you just don’t want to open. It’s also completely unnecessary. You can get the information you seek without asking questions that may be perceived as inappropriate.

Having children does not necessarily make an employee less reliable―parents may have childcare arrangements. In our fifty-plus years of business experience, we have disciplined many childless employees for attendance issues. We have also worked with many colleagues who had children and showed up to work on time every day. Our opinion aside, you have already answered your own question. If you want to know whether a person will come to work, on time, every day when scheduled, the first step is to ask that question.

manager photo Q. My small business is growing and we have more than 50 employees. I’m thinking of creating a Human Resources Manager position. My Administrative Assistant has indicated an interest in the job. She is very loyal, currently handles the employee files, and is a wonderful people person. I would love to reward her hard work. Do you think this is a good idea?

A. Do you think it would be a good idea to promote your Administrative Assistant, who has no knowledge of accounting, to Accounting Manager? Most CEOs would never consider this. You simply can’t have an Accounting Manager who doesn’t know anything about accounting.

“I HIGHLY recommend Polly and Doug. They have wonderful insight to help small business owners prioritize and identify strategies for growth and improvement. Wish I had met them 20 years ago!”

Sharon MaderePresident / Premier Pet Products

My team and I have had the privilege of working with Polly on our business. Polly's keen business insight and savvy is something special. She was honest, direct, and tactful about her observations and recommendations for our team and how to grow our business. It was a pleasure having her help us and I would tell anyone that’s serious about growing their business to call Polly. She’s great!

John O’Reilly, Broker/OwnerBase Camp Realty

“Doug and Polly, I want to thank both of you! The past few months have been enlightening and overwhelming all at the same time. Your guidance, direction, wealth of knowledge, and wisdom have exceeded all my expectations. No words could ever completely describe just how amazing of a “dynamic duo” you two really are!”

Dawn Beninghove, RN, CCM, CRP, PNChief Executive Officer / Companion Extraordinaire Nursing Network, Inc.

“Doug White took on an unfocused operation (in the financial services sector) and created an efficient, centralized system dedicated to excellence. He did this not by driving change from the top down, but by helping the entire team see how their part of the process could be improved. Doug then mentored us toward effecting the changes ourselves. He taught us all how to bring our “A game,” and how to take ownership and pride in what we do.”

Donna LevinVice President of Operations / care.com

"I have had the privilege of working with Polly White for several years on a variety of projects. She consistently provides clear direction on how to resolve a wide range of employment-related issues. I look forward to my continued relationship with Polly."

Elizabeth WilkinsBusiness Manager / Manorhouse Management, Inc.

I have known Polly for more than ten years. As an HR Manager, I have utilized Polly’s training expertise at my former company and with my current company. Polly exceled at assessing the needs of our management teams and tailoring training programs that resulted in visible positive change. I also know I can count on Polly as a resource on any HR topic or bounce ideas off of her when I need a second opinion. Polly has been a mentor to me and I have always appreciated her willingness to listen and offer valuable advice and expertise.

Leigh McCullar, HR Business PartnerUniversity of Richmond

I am truly impressed with the abilities of Doug and Polly White, thank you! What a difference your expertise have made in helping Associates grow in their careers. Your dedication to excellence through empowering the individual and strengthening the Company is enlightening. I do and will continue to recommend Whitestone Partners to the Executive Market.

Suzanne Pittman, MEd VAMAC, Inc.
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