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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The dismissal

This image is from a posting in Drew McLellan's blog, Drew's Marketing Minute. The subject, appropriately, is: Build your brand: Letting someone go. "Every single thing your organization does or doesn't do impacts your brand," he writes. "But, the more emotionally charged the moment/event -- the greater potential it has to color the brand. The more "talkable" the moment -- the great potential it has to color your brand."

It is always hard to ask an employee to leave. Dismissal, obviously, is a last resort. In 20 or so years in business, I've only had to do it a handful of times. Usually, the employee who needs to leave just goes of his or her own accord; sometimes (with proper notice, of course) just adjusting the compensation or rules are enough to encourage a voluntary departure.

All employees, whether they are staying or leaving, have rights -- and there are many legislative and common-law guidelines that need to be followed if you want to ask someone to leave. It is always wise to have an employment contract in place from the outset which clearly sets out the rules -- this can protect you from some onerous common-law (in Canada) severance obligations.

I remember (painfully well) the one time in my life I was actually dismissed from a job -- when I lost my employment as a sub-editor for the Bulawayo Chronicle just days before Zimbabwe achieved independence in April, 1980. I had been there 18 months, but in a wild Good Friday evening broke every (employment) rule in the book, getting drunk and having a few people thrown into jail at a remote police camp. I certainly deserved to be fired and felt angst at the time, but in hindsight, didn't regret my decision.

I also remember well one time when I was given a "last chance" and survived -- at the Medicine Hat News, I was spending my time at less than productive activities, and management had concluded I must go. But somehow I read the tea-leaves in time, and set down to work like I had never before in my life. With my journalistic productivity greatly increased, I survived, and gathered enough cash to journey to Africa for the life-changing adventure. When it was time to leave Medicine Hat, with proper notice, I obtained a letter of introduction to the newspaper chain's Africa correspondent who invited me to be a 'stringer' from Rhodesia turning Zimbabwe. This is allowed me to fulfill my first career dream of being a foreign correspondent.

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