Emory Mulling is a nationally recognized expert on the trends and forces shaping the global workplace and the Chairman, Senior Executive, and Coaching Consultant for the Mulling Corporation. Emory joins ASBN today to talk about the toughest tasks a small business owner struggles with as a manager and how to handle each unique situation. In part 1 of this 3 part series, Emory addresses terminating an employee, laying off staff, and handling conflict.
Joe Gumm: Welcome to the Atlanta Small Business Show. I’m Joe Gumm, and our guest today is Emory Mulling. He’s a nationally recognized expert on the trends and forces shaping the global workplace and the chairman and senior executive coaching consultant for the Mulling Corporation. A former Vice-president of Human Resources, Emory’s background includes 16 years of corporate human resource experience, with three Fortune 500 companies. Emory is also the host of At Work with Emory Mulling, a radio show for News Talk 1160, and the author of the The Mulling Factor, Get your Life Back by Taking Control of Your Career. Emory, we appreciate you taking the time joining us here.
You know about business, but you know about leadership, and consulting. We’re going to gather some topics here about managing and responsibilities that managers have, especially with small business. It’s very important with small business. It’s something that can’t be overlooked. Managers have a lot of responsibilities. They have a lot of tasks that they have to do throughout the day with their group of people, whether it’s five, 10, 15, 20. It doesn’t matter how big, but they also have to do their job. Sometimes those two things are connected, so let’s start with that. One of the responsibilities that a manager sometimes has to handle is terminating one of their employees. You list this as number one, that task managers have to struggle with. Go into a little bit more detail on that.
Emory Mulling: This is the least responsibility that a person likes to do, firing someone. At Mulling Corporation, we provide career transition services, and that’s teaching people how to conduct their a career search after they’ve been fired. The companies turn those people over to us. I worry about people who like to fire people, and we’ve had to deal with some of those people sometimes. Managers never terminate an employee. The employee terminates themselves either by breaking policy, poor work performance, or whatever it is. The secret here is you terminate someone no matter what the reason with dignity, because if I terminate you, there are 20 or 30 people standing around seeing how I’m going to treat you, and that’s how they measure how they may be treated if they have to be terminated or laid off. It’s an employee relations tool.
Joe Gumm: Okay. I’m glad you mentioned that. You mentioned something about laying off. You list laying off an employee as the second task that managers struggle with. How does laying off differ from terminating an employee?
Emory Mulling: Terminating an employee is the employee’s fault. You don’t terminate for poor reasons, or you shouldn’t. It could be not meeting standard of the job. Laying off is most of the time the company’s fault. They’re making the decision and due to business, economic reasons, decrease in sales, whatever it is. You may have to layoff a longterm employee knowing their personal situation. They may be the sole supporter of their family, and it really bothers a lot of people to have to do that. There could be fewer jobs out there because it … in the middle of a recession. Terminating is the employee’s fault. Laying off is the company’s fault.
Joe Gumm: Okay. Let’s talk about the third task. What it is ranked as far the most challenging task for managers that they don’t like to handle on their job?
Emory Mulling: Handling conflict, being conflict avoidance. At Mulling Corporation, we do a lot of executive coaching. Handling or avoiding conflict is the number one skillset that have we have to deal with in executive coaching someone. It’s seen as negative. Most managers think it’s dirty and a negative task to handle. It can be positive. If you handle conflict the right way and soon enough, it’s a positive situation. When we’re coaching someone, we give assignments to handle the least conflict they have first, and we go up the chain. When they handle a smaller conflict, they see that it’s really not as bad as it’s going to be, and therefore they learn that handling conflict is not good. We call it garbage bagging. If someone keeps stuffing the conflict in the garbage bag, it gets fuller and fuller and then it explodes. It doesn’t look good, and it doesn’t small good. Handling conflict can be a cancer.