Discharging an associate, particularly one who has been with you for some time, will always be stressful for both you and her. Be certain to go about it methodically and with forethought.
DOING THE DEED
Termination should never be a “shoot from the hip” reaction to a specific situation, rather it’s a well-thought-out yet timely process. Still, don’t delay it unnecessarily. Having concluded there is no alternative, plan the exit so it creates the minimum anguish for both you and the nail tech. Clarify why you are taking this action. Be clear about the reasons. Document those reasons. Avoid personal, degrading, or vague statements and don’t say anything that might suggest that the situation is reversible. Consider the possibility of an irrational, negative, or combative reaction and perhaps an appeal. Having reached this point, do it now, not tomorrow or next week. Never allow a tech or other employee a few days or weeks to get her things in order. This only permits this person to do nothing to further your salon but perhaps be more disruptive and bad-mouth you to others. Resolve the issues about confidentiality, ownership of clients, ongoing client retention, and her becoming a competitor. [Editor’s note: Read “When a Tech Leaves Your Team” in next month’s issue for more on this.]
If the problem is with a booth renter and you are little more than a supervising lessor, there is very little change in the procedures to be followed. In some cases, such with the Nails by Mel salon, where all techs are on month-to-month leases, the last month’s booth rent is prepaid. Martin suggests that if firing in mid-month you make a full refund of the unearned portion of the current month’s rent and the prepaid last month’s held on deposit. This way, you are rid of the problem — today.
AFTER THE TERMINATION
Some remaining associates may think you have acted too harshly and prematurely. Others will wonder what took you so long. Saying, “It’s not your concern” or something of this sort, may not cut it. You must gauge yourself as to how much explanation is required and what you are prepared to share. There is no definite rule as to how to deal with these situations. Make a judgment based on your personal salon situation.
If the fired employee asks for a reference, because of concern about being liable for defamation of character it is usually best to provide only the date of the termination and say nothing else.
Don’t Skip These Steps
> Begin with a detailed investigation into the cause and probable action.
> Ensure that the problem or allegations are real and have been or can be substantiated.
> Have a sit-down with the associate and in an open, non-prejudicial manner discuss the problem or allegations.
> Give the associate every opportunity to respond.
> Seek an alternative solution to dismissal.
> Most importantly, when you are certain that the problem cannot be resolved do not sweep it under the rug. Act with discretion and candor.
> Where possible, convince the associate to quit. Get a signed resignation letter. This makes it better for both parties who can then avoid the potential pitfalls associated with termination.
Lloyd Manning is a semi-retired commercial real estate and business appraiser. He has had four business books and over 100 articles published in trade and consumer magazines and professional journals. His most recent book, “Winning With Commercial Real Estate,” is available from Booklocker Inc, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.