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Director of Online Marketing for Salesforce Work.com. Fascinated with all aspects of digital marketing and social business. David has posted 99 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

Beware An Employee Scorned

06.23.2013
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Coca Cola have helped spread many myths and legends throughout society.  Arguably one of their most enduring however surrounds the importance of good customer service.  They did some research back in 1981 into how people talk after receiving good and bad customer experience.  They found that good customer experience was shared on average to 3 people, whilst bad experiences was shared to 10.

As a heuristic it’s widely accepted, although of course the web now makes it possible for those ratios to be amplified on a huge scale.  So how does this relate to performance management?

The answer comes from a sporting context.  Researchers studied the sporting phenomenom called the Immutable Law of the Ex.  It’s the law that so often sees players reserving their best performances for the matches against their former teams, especially when they feel they were mistreated by their former employer.

They studied over 400 matches from the English Premier League between 2000 and 2005 to gauge the performances put in by players in each game.  They found that motivations were often multi-faceted.  Firstly players were driven by anger at the perceived slight they had received from their former team.  Alied to that was the desire to show their loyalty to their new club.  Add to this mix their knowledge of their former team mates and it’s a recipe for some red hot performances.  It’s worth noting though that by far the biggest factor in a players performance was the anger boiling inside them.  When they had a point to prove, they went all out to prove it.

In a commercial setting, this could take a number of forms.  The employee could take to the web to bad mouth you as much as they can, be that through a negative Glassdoor review or via social media.  They could join the legion of people who have left companies only to found a rival that has then gone on to perform better.

Obviously there are always going to be times when you need to let people go, that’s kind of a given, but if the research above isn’t reason enough to do so as humanely as possible, here are three more reasons why firing someone should be kindly.

  1. Beware the karma police - Ok, first things first, it says a lot about you as a person.  It’s an old adage that you should treat others as you’d like to be treated yourself.  Losing a job is never a nice thing, so treating people with compassion is the right thing to do.
  2. You send a message to those left behind - Even if you don’t perform the execution in public, the office gossip mill will soon get word around about the circumstances behind any dismissal.  If you behave callously then you send the message to those remaining that they’re little more than commodities that can be dispatched whenever circumstances suit.
  3. Bridges are burnt - Having a strong network of people willing to help and cheerlead you, be it as an individual or as an organisation is vital in our social networked age.  Having connections in other organisations can be a great way to encourage collaboration and innovation.  Those potential bridges are burnt if you don’t part on good terms.

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Published at DZone with permission of its author, David Austin.

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