Office Politics 101: Referring a lousy employee

Q: A guy who works for me has advised he’s been short-listed for a position with another company and wants to use me as a reference. I’m glad he’s planning to leave, frankly, and yet I don’t want to be overly negative. What should I say if they call?

A: You’ve been unhappy with this employee’s work and are pleased he is pursuing other opportunities; therefore, it may have crossed your mind to provide him with a supportive reference, just to get rid of him.

While I probably would not blame you for giving a reasonably affirming endorsement of his work, you will also need to be true to yourself and his prospective employer will expect you to be candid.

In addition, if you were seeking a suitable employee to fill a position in your company, you would be frustrated with an employer’s recommendation that turned out to be untruthful.

(The fact he is using you as a reference means he trusts you and believes you will be giving a fair estimation of his work performance: you should receive this as a compliment.)

It is important to consider not only the content of any reference you may give, but also the tone. After all, you can make relatively encouraging points with a voice that may deliver a contrasting message.

I’d like to encourage you to reflect on the deficiencies of this employee and whether or not they could be corrected in another setting. In other words, you don’t want to employ excessively critical communication when there is the likelihood that his performance could be improved elsewhere.

Also, if the responsibilities of the new job are significantly different than those he is performing for you, you may be in a better position to offer remarks that are helpful, especially if those responsibilities are obvious strengths.

Remember, too, that he has made the decision to leave your company so he is also experiencing a measure of dissatisfaction that may be affecting his performance. While this should not excuse his behavior, it could explain it to some extent.

This employee needs to be treated with respect and justice. He’s undoubtedly disappointed you but may perform better in a new setting. Your reference, therefore, must be both accurate and sensitive, with consideration of the needs of the future employer.

Submit your confidential questions relating to work and office life to simongibson@shaw.ca

Just Posted

11th annual Magic Cottage kicks off this weekend in Port Alberni

Cottage will be open over two weekends in November

Port Alberni RCMP hold second bike registration event

Project 529 will be at Canadian Tire on Saturday, Nov. 17

Husky Gas Station robbed on Third Avenue

Port Alberni RCMP still searching for suspect

New Coast Guard radar boosts marine traffic monitoring off B.C. coast

Six radar installations set up for Georgia Strait to Queen Charlotte Strait to Prince Rupert

Port Alberni care homes benefit from funding to purchase new safety equipment

Echo Village and Fir Park Village will be receiving $32,500 each

Trudeau offers to help Pacific islands face climate change impact

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with the leaders from the Pacific island nations on Saturday during the APEC Summit in Papua New Guinea

Price makes 36 saves as Habs edge Canucks 3-2

Late goal lifts Montreal past Vancouver

BC Minister of Agriculture loses stepson to accidental overdose

Lana Popham announces death of her 23-year-old stepson, Dan Sealey

Canadian military’s template for perfect recruits outdated: Vance

Gen. Jonathan Vance, the chief of defence staff says that the military has to change because the very nature of warfare is changing, particularly when it comes to cyber-warfare

‘Toxic’ chosen as the Word of the Year by Oxford Dictionaries

Other top contenders for 2018 include ‘gaslighting’ and ‘techlash’

RCMP bust illegal B.C. cannabis lab

Marijuana may be legal but altering it using chemicals violates the Cannabis Act

Canada defeats Germany 29-10 in repechage, moves step closer to Rugby World Cup

Hong Kong needs a bonus-point win over Canada — scoring four or more tries — while denying the Canadians a bonus point

Avalanche Canada in desperate need of funding

The organization provides avalanche forecasting for an area larger than the United Kingdom

5 B.C. cities break temperature records

Parts of B.C. remain warm, at 10 C, while others feeling chilly

Most Read