This week I interviewed J.O. who works at Walmart. The following is a list of questions our group created, and J.O.’s answers to these questions:
What are automatic grounds for termination at your workplace?
“Pretty much anything considered illegal like stealing, abusing customers. Things like showing up for work late consistently or poor attitude/customer service can eventually get you terminated, but that is usually over a period of time and not an instant termination.”
What is the process you use to discipline an employee who is constantly late?
“This can vary from case to case. We have some excellent employees who work hard and have great customer service skills, but are often late for work. We are sometimes more lenient with these type of employees. On the other hand, if an employee performs poorly AND is constantly late, they will be the ones we terminate first.” Typically the process goes from verbal warnings, to written warnings, and once they’ve had a couple written warnings they may be suspended or layed off.”
What is the hardest part of disciplining an employee and firing an employee for you?
“I’ve had to let at least two employees whom I would consider close friends, I think that was the hardest thing I’ve had to do.”
- What tactics have you found to be effective when disciplining/firing an employee?
“It’s always important to have someone else in the room to help be a witness/mediator. It’s also important to be sensitive and degrading towards them. It’s a hard thing to get fired.”
- What are good indicators which help you know if your disciplinary actions have been effective or not?
“If they start working harder or show an improvement in behavior. If it was an employee that was always late I would expect them to show up on time.”
- When you need to discipline an employee, do you have someone else there to help be a mediator?
“Unless it’s a serious issue, No. Discipline often consists of a short private meeting where we can share concerns and help resolve the issue.”
- How many “chances” do you give an employee before they are terminated?
“Again, this can depend on the circumstances, but we do sometimes follow the “3 strikes you’re out” rule.”
- What is the main reason why you need to fire an employee?
“Not performing their job duties or treating customers poorly.”
- After firing an employee how does the workplace change/react to the firing?
“After the initial hiccup, ironically, firing a problem employee usually results in more work getting done.”
- When a termination needs to happen due to budget issues, how do you choose which employee it will be?
“I focus on employees who are not performing well in their job duties, or problem employees. Our customers are our greatest source of feedback as to how our employees are performing, so I will fire employees who have numerous complaints first.”
- How do you approach the conversation when firing an employee? Do you explain in depth the reasons why they are being fired?
“Of course, I would be a terrible manager if I fired an employee without first explaining why they were being fired.”
- If your company was really short-staffed but an employee gives countless reasons to be terminated would you proceed with firing them or keep them because you can’t afford to lose an employee?
“I have sometimes hung on to problem employees for longer than I should have because we had a big sale coming up a department needed help. This may have been the wrong choice to make it the end, but I’m not perfect and everyone makes mistakes.”
This interview was interesting and a helpful insight to the political, and sometimes dramatic, aspect of firing and discipline in the workplace. I learned that it’s important to have witnesses for exit interviews, and for managers to be considerate and show empathy for those being disciplined. Being fired can be extremely stressful and it should be done tactfully.