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

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 Alice resident a descendant of two Aboriginal war heroes

Charlie and Henry Byce are Canada’s most decorated father and son in history.

Port Hardy council hesitant to formalize question period in agendas, refers it to committee

In first act as new council, representatives were uncertain about formalizing question periods.

Gas prices on Vancouver Island to drop six cents

But a ‘volatile’ market could lead to increases in the coming weeks

Mt. Waddington’s Salvation Army releases eye-opening statistics report for 2017

Shelter overnight stays saw a 431 per cent increase since 2014.

Winter weather hits parts of Canada

As some parts of the country brace for cold, parts of B.C. remain warmer than 10 C

B.C. teacher’s Amazing Race takes students on Canada-wide adventure

Agassiz high school students say they had the experience of a life time

Don’t sign USMCA until LGBTQ language excised, U.S. lawmakers urge Trump

The trade agreement, forged after 13 months of tense negotiations between Canada and the U.S. is scheduled for Nov. 30

US official: US intel says prince ordered Khashoggi killing

Vice-President Mike Pence told reporters that ‘the murder of Jamal Khashoggi was an atrocity.’

Canada’s health system commendable overall but barriers to care remain: UN

The United Nations says Canada’s health care system is “commendable” overall but vulnerable groups still face barriers to quality care.

Unique technology gives children with special needs more independent play

UVic’s CanAssist refined seven prototypes aided by $1.5M government contribution

Kelly Ellard’s boyfriend has statutory release revoked

Darwin Duane Dorozan had several parole infractions that found him ‘unmanageable’

Road rescue near Sayward points to volunteer need

Fire department recruits can be tough for small, remote communities

Most Read