November 1, 2019
Brent Ayles
Brent Ayles

When the staff tree needs pruning

Necessary endings


One of the best feelings in management or ownership is hiring new people. It inspires new beginnings and new opportunities. We are always excited to bring people aboard the ship, to help sail in what we hope is the right direction. As with most ships, there are calm days and there are rough days. The companies that sustain the rough seas are generally those with much experience, that know the importance of having good plans in place. After all, this is when the team needs to work together the most.

Along with the anticipation of hiring new people, growing a business to new levels, engaging with more people and expanding our centre of influence, we must also expect some necessary endings as well.

Necessary endings are simply part of maturing and growing as an organization. I often resort to a quote from John C. Maxwell, “Seldom if ever is it the people that get you there, keep you there.” In order to finish well, and make necessary endings as positive as possible, a few things help ease the burden when we are faced with the need to allow players in the game to move on to greener pastures. These are only a few things to consider.

Employment position contract: This agreement between the employer and employee attempts to set out clear expectations on what the employee is counted on to produce within the role. I always recommended ensuring the contract is reviewed, and signed by both parties, with copies for both the employee and his or her file. It is not the be-all end-all, but it is a great start to a formal working relationship. Set clear expectations and rules, with clear consequences. This will help manage the employment process.

Employee file: This process needs to be standardized. Items in this file should include position contract, on-boarding plan, employee handbook, behaviour guide (what is expected and what is not acceptable), non-disclosure agreement, copy of Labour Standards Act, safety policy and agreement, vehicle waiver agreement, social media policy, workplace health and safety plan, and vision plan — an exercise which allows the employee to write out their life goals, as well as other articles such as performance review plans, criminal record check and drivers licence abstract. Create the file with a checklist on the inside cover. This is only the beginning, to help guide and manage the  relationship between the new employee and the employer. If you do not have this template, just START. 

Necessary endings: Sometimes in life, there are things that need to end. Things that need to be pruned and removed. Things that need to be released, to allow them to find a better place in the world. It is always best to finish well under as many circumstances as possible. Ensuring you have a completed employee file with the documents listed above will help with making an exit or termination easier, as well as protecting the employer from legal issues that can arise from not following proper employment processes. The top three items to ensure this happens seamlessly — for both parties — are the employment contract, non-disclosure agreement and termination notification. The notification should be as precise and accurate as possible; ensure the reason or just cause is simple and clear. We can learn so much in the end by starting well, following a defined employment process and doing an exit interview. 

This interview helps the organization learn from past experience. But experience is not enough. Evaluated experience is what brings us forward. We continue to learn and perfect our largest asset management process — our team — past, present and future. 

There are bridges to cross. There are bridges to restore. There are bridges to remove. With a defined employment process, the bridges we must remove become much more advantageous to both parties. This is the START of ensuring our employment engagements finish well. 
Brent Ayles is president of Ayles Natural Landscaping, based in Riverview, N.B.