Two weeks ago I answered my final
Q&A which dealt with the termination of a sales rep a few weeks before
Christmas. I received several emails in response which varied from total
agreement to being called callous for not being considerate of the holiday
timeframe. I was challenged to consider the sales rep at Christmastime and
asked why I wouldn’t consider waiting until January.
Let me pose this question in reply: Is
January a better time to terminate a failing sales rep? What if I were to tell
you that she had a January birthday and would also be celebrating her 5 year
wedding anniversary? Should we then wait until February?
Simply put there is no good time to
terminate any employee for any reason. Termination is termination. It is not
fun, not easy, and emotional, even though it should not be. Termination is
firing. Firing sucks whether you are the firing manager or the employee being
fired. I am not callous nor do I lack emotion. In fact, I am empathetic to the
young lady being terminated right before Christmas. Considering the worst of
the situation, losing your job right before Christmas can be considered
downright cold. It may cause the person being fired to have an absolutely
miserable holiday season. They may have left the company crying uncontrollably.
Or, maybe they have a sense of relief and will go through the holidays with a
weight off of their shoulders.
In answering the question two weeks ago
I did point out that we never know what someone else may be going through in
their personal life. But, personal is personal and business is business. Regardless
of what time of the year we’re in, business decisions must be made, and such
decisions must be made with the best of intentions for the company. Keeping an
underperforming sales rep around for another month or two simply delays the
inevitable. It costs the company more money in terms of salary, benefits, and
taxes. The relationship between the sales manager and the sales rep will
continue to be strained putting stress on both people and possibly others
within the sales organization. Needless to say, keeping the sales rep around
does nothing for either the company or rep.
Because we don’t know what someone may
be going through and time of the year should not be a factor, let’s take a
different view for the sake of this light debate. The underperforming sales rep
has been miserable for some time. She recognizes and acknowledges that she is
underperforming, and while continuing to try to sell, she is not successful.
Unfortunately, while she is not happy, she also has not found a new opportunity
yet, but she has been interviewing. She’s not really been looking forward to
Christmas because of the stress of work. Each and every day she wants to leave
and is hoping a new opportunity comes through soon. Then she is terminated.
With HR being involved she is provided a three-month severance package and is
immediately shown the door. The weight of her poor sales performance has been
immediately lifted. She has time to relax and refresh during the holidays which
also gives her additional time to spend with family and friends. And, with the severance
package in place, she can now concentrate on the interview process with other
companies after the holidays are over. What if? I understand this is a
hypothetical, but it may be the real case. Regardless of her story, I stick by
my previous post and answer. The company must do what is best for the company,
the sales manager, the rest of the sales team, and in the moment not based on
the time of year or date on the calendar.