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a blog by Chris Barrow

Letters from a perfect imperfectionist: Such sweet sorrow

There comes a point in your career as a manager or an owner when you have to say “goodbye” to an employee, sub-contractor, supplier or client – simply because their core values and your core values don’t match.

Sometimes the money side of the relationship is good, the performance of the individual is acceptable but every time they call, email or walk in the room, your heart sinks a little because the way they behave rubs you up the wrong way.

The love has gone (and perhaps, on reflection, it wasn’t love at the outset, it was just a need or an addiction that had to be satisfied and you called it love to rationalise your decision – your intuition was over-ridden by circumstances).

There is no easy or good way to say “goodbye” because, no matter how you flower up the language, the listener feels rejected and they will immediately launch into that well-known 5-stage cycle of:

• rejection • denial • anger • depression • acceptance

The challenge here is that “moment of truth” when you deliver the bad news and the supporting paperwork.

To describe this as an emotionally charged situation would be an understatement. In fact, some people will trigger the first 4 stages of the cycle simultaneously – so ‘EXPLAINING” the thinking behind your decision is akin to leaping out of your car and explaining to a pensioner you knocked down at a pedestrian crossing how late you were for pilates.

I am frequently asked how to handle such a meeting, whether it is with a practice manager, associate or team member who is about to walk the plank.

Answer – keep it short, deliver the news and request an early close to the meeting with the option of a return to discussion at a later date, when emotions have calmed.

At that later meeting, it is unlikely that any benefit will accrue from either party discussing how they feel about the situation, just deal with the situation.

As a friend once said about one of my social media stalkers “Chris, if you invented a cure for cancer, he would still call you a cock”.

Good, even though harsh, advice.

Once the grim deed is done – heed the experience of those who have gone before you.

Do you really want someone turning up in your business for a notice period whilst they work their way through the 5 stages?

Almost without exception, team members and patients will be infected with the negative virus that this person will carry. At best, comments in the staff room and, at worst, patient database downloads and headhunting (I’ve seen it all).

So, a payment in lieu of notice can often be a much better solution for your business.

A final point – none of this should ever be done without the advice of a good employment law or contract professional to make sure you have no Achilles heel.

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