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<xTITLE>20 Questions to Ask an Employee Before Considering Termination</xTITLE>

20 Questions to Ask an Employee Before Considering Termination

by Kenneth Cloke
May 2013 Kenneth Cloke
  1. If you were the manager of this organization, what level of performance or behavior would you expect from an employee in your position? 

  2. Do you think your team/the organization has a right to expect employees to meet minimal standards?  What do you believe those standards are?

  3. Do you think they should be any different from what they are?  How?

  4. Would you like to know in more detail what they are or why they were created?

  5. What impact do you think the failure to meet these standards will have on the team?  On the organization?

  6. Do you believe you have met those standards?

  7. Would you like some feedback on which ones your supervisor thinks you have met and have not met?

  8. How could you test to make sure you have met them?

  9. What kind of support from your team/the organization do you feel you need in order to meet these standards?

  10. What do you think should happen to any employee who fails to meet these standards? 

  11. If you were a manager, how many warnings would you give an employee who failed to meet these standards prior to termination?  

  12. What do you think is going to happen to you if you continue not meeting these standards?  

  13. What would need to be done first by your team/the organization or its supervisors for any discipline or discharge to feel fair to you?

  14. What do you want to happen?  What are you prepared to do to make sure it does?

  15. What are your long-term career goals?  What are you doing to meet them?

  16. Are you sure you really want this job?  Do you think you might be in the wrong position?  If so, what position do you think you should be in?

  17. If you really want this job, what are you prepared to do to keep it? 

  18. How long do you think it should take for you to meet these standards? 

  19. What should happen if you don’t meet them by then? 

  20. How would you like your team members/manager to communicate to you in the future if there are issues with your performance?  How will you plan to communicate with them?  Do you think that will work?


Kenneth Cloke is Director of the Center for Dispute Resolution and a mediator, arbitrator, consultant and trainer, specializing in resolving complex multi-party conflicts internationally and in designing conflict resolution systems for organizations. Ken is a nationally recognized speaker and leader in the field of conflict resolution, and a published author of many books and journal articles. He was a co-founder of Mediators Beyond Borders.

Ken is a nationally recognized speaker and leader in the field of conflict resolution, and a published author of many journal articles and several books, including Mediation: Revenge and the Magic of Forgiveness, The Crossroads of Conflict, The Dance of Opposites, and Mediating Dangerously: The Fontiers of Conflict Resolution.  His consulting and training practice includes organizational change, leadership, team building and strategic planning. He is a co-author with Joan Goldsmith of Thank God It's Monday! 14 Values We Need to Humanize The Way We Work, Resolving Conflicts at Work: A Complete Guide for Everyone on the Job, Resolving Personal and Organizational Conflict: Stories of Transformation and Forgiveness; The End of Management and the Rise of Organizational Democracy, and The Art of Waking People Up: Cultivating Awareness and Authenticity at Work. His latest book, Journeys into the Heart of Conflict was be published in 2015.

Ken received a B.A. from the University of California; a J.D. from U.C.'s Boalt Law School; a Ph.D. from UCLA; an LLM from UCLA Law School; and has done post-doctoral work at Yale Law School. He is a graduate of the National Judicial College in Reno, Nevada. His university teaching includes law, mediation, history and other social sciences at a number of colleges and universities including Southwestern University School of Law, Southern Methodist University, Pepperdine University School of Law, Antioch University, Occidental College, USC and UCLA.

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