The ROPE Method for Terminating Employment


Hiring and firing an employee are the two toughest things an employer will do. Hiring and getting the right skill set and personality to fit within an organization is a huge challenge. Many times, when an employee doesn’t work out, it is because the business failed in finding the right fit for the organization. When the situation is no longer a fit, terminating an employee can be just as hard.

No matter how carefully you plan, interview, and test, some people just don’t fit. So how do you know when it is time to consider letting someone go? I use the ROPE method to determine if a change is needed. Here are the four key ideas behind ROPE:

R = Relationships. In today’s workplace, relationships play a vital role in the success of an individual and the business. On occasion, you will get an employee who has terrible working relationships with other employees and outside customers. The problem employee creates division and dissension, which in turn creates low morale and workplace conflict. They have negative “mojo” and it affects everyone around them.

O = Operations. The problem employee causes a decrease in productivity and efficiencies. The employee may operate at a leisurely pace or without a sense of urgency. The employee may waste money or repeatedly make the same bad decisions. You can see and identify how the problem employee is impacting the bottom line.

P = Profits. Simple question:  “Are you losing money?” At the heart of any business is the drive to secure profit. Are profits dropping because of a problem employee? Are you losing customers, sales, or orders? All these things lead to a decline in profit and the ultimate success of the business.

E = Effort. Almost all organizations and businesses run lean today. Most owners and managers don’t have a lot of spare time to spend on cleaning up situations or issues a problem employee caused. If a problem employee is consuming the leader’s time, it may be time to make a change. Time and effort are valuable commodities in the workplace today; they shouldn’t be wasted.

As the adage goes, “Give them enough ROPE to hang themselves.” The real challenge is how do you document and try to correct the behavior and protect the business. Start addressing the behavior and action early and suggest steps to be taken to correct the problems. If the problems continue, begin writing up the problem employee for very specific things or actions that created the problem. Have the employee sign the written reprimand. Be very clear in your written reprimands and about what is expected. At this time, you may want to start consulting with an attorney well versed in labor law.

If there are no changes by the employee and other problems continue to develop, give a final written warning. Point out the failures to correct attitudes or actions. Detail your expectations and outcomes that are expected and have the employee sign the document. Before terminating employment, have your attorney check your documentation.  It will save you in the long run with legal costs.

Hiring and firing are the two toughest things a business will do. It is a challenge to get the right employees, but it makes all the difference in the success or failure of your business.

See you in McAllen!