Philip Cantor

Jendell Construction

Kensington, Md.

Big50 2001

Good field employees are so hard to come by that letting someone go can be agonizing. Before we decide to let someone go, we ask: What was the offense? How long have they been employed? Did they feel bad, or show remorse, for what took place? Have they done the same thing before?

We all deserve a second chance. Therefore, when an employee makes a mistake like showing up late to work or not returning extra materials for credit, we give them a few warnings before termination.

Offenses like substance abuse are another story. We'll work with employees to get them proper help. We'll work with them as long as they want the help or are willing to help themselves.

We have no tolerance for stealing. We will immediately terminate an employee for theft.

Depending on what took place, we discuss the incident. We explain to the employee why their behavior or performance was unacceptable, then document the incident. Management and the employee sign this document, and it's placed in their employee file.

Chris Lattuada

B-Line Construction

Sacramento, Calif.

Big50 2002

Hire slow, fire fast. When the time has come to let someone go, there are three words: "You are fired."

There still is the whole human element. But we are, after all, in business. However, if we go back to our roots, before we were contractors, hopefully we remember both sides. Old bosses sometimes fired the wrong person. Or, someone should have been fired and wasn't. You could have a great technician with a negative attitude -- this can be the worst. The most difficult firings are the ones that should have happened long ago. "X" mistake happening more than twice shows it wasn't a mistake. If employees are costing more than they're earning in either financial or mental costs -- or both -- it's time for them to go.

Firing is never easy. I always go back to, Did I make a bad choice from the beginning? I ask, What could I add to my hiring process so I don't make that mistake again? The answers help me become more particular in regard to hires. Bottom line: There's usually a better place for that wonderful person, where they will succeed.

Gene Peterson

Advise and Consult

Riverton, Utah

Big50 1988

After you've exhausted all the steps of your up-front contract -- the expectations you set when you hired them -- then it's time for them to go. The minimum you expect is the maximum you'll get.

Employees are the greatest asset you have. The cost of retraining and getting their loyalty is tremendous. When situations happen, you have to take the emotions out. In the confrontation, reset the up-front contract. Perhaps the reason you got into this situation was because you didn't set such a contract. You need to say: "This is what we expect of you. You choose." Then it becomes their choice whether they stay or they go.

Ken Spears

Ken Spears Construction

Shabbona, Ill.

Big50 1999

An employee only would be terminated when there has been repeated disrespect for the company, employees, or clients. This could be attendance, attitude, or performance. We generally tend to go with a "three strikes" policy. The only exception would be in the case of cheating or theft, in which case termination is immediate.

We have a small pool of potential employees, and we would rather spend time in remedial work with someone who has a positive attitude than start from scratch with another person's unknown strengths and weaknesses. We use constructive, semiannual performance reviews to help employees gauge performance against expectations. In the first 90 days, we try to give employees informal updates monthly, so they're aware of company standards as quickly as possible and can avoid bad habits.