12: Awkward Conversations with Ash Rhodes

12: Awkward Conversations with Ash Rhodes

Ash Rhodes tells me about the “Termination Room”, which is almost as painful as it sounds. 


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Charlotte Ward  0:14  

Hello, and welcome to the Customer Support Leaders podcast. This is Episode 12. I’m Charlotte Ward. The theme for this week is awkward conversations. So stay tuned for five leaders talking about that very topic.

Today I welcome back to the podcast, my good friend Ash Rhodes. So the topic for this week is awkward conversations. 

Ash Rhodes  0:41  

All right

Charlotte Ward  0:42  

Let’s have a talk about you know, any particular stories you have awkward conversations with your team performance issues. How do you have those types of awkward conversations? 

Ash Rhodes  0:52  

Well, anybody who’s been in leadership for any amount of time has had to have them and I mean everything from performance to those the absolute most awkward, which is having to terminate some employment, small story, my very first day of leadership was at GoDaddy. And I was promoted to be a lead of the team that I had previously been on. I was on my way in, very first day, and I get a call from one of my previous co-workers, saying that she thought that she was about to be terminated because she’d missed a few days. I have no idea. I haven’t heard anything. I get in and they’re like, hey, Ash, congratulations. Welcome to your first day. You get to fire somebody. And it was my friend. And so I’m like, What do I do? I like should I call her back, tell her to quit before she gets fired, so on and so forth. Because I felt like they had just told me if she calls into quit, it’s going to be pretty obvious that I told her, so I didn’t 

Charlotte Ward  1:56  

They said that to you? They really gave you that heads up?

Ash Rhodes  1:59  

Really, on my very first day was this is here’s the termination paperwork, you’re going to fire this person, the moment she gets in, like be waiting for her, take her to the Termination Room, which was a real thing. It was right outside the front door. Like, go do it. You have 10 minutes to get ready before her shift is set to start. So yeah, there I was, like 25 years old, like bringing in this very sweet girl who just like had been sick too much and didn’t go see a doctor type of thing. And that was my introduction to leadership. It was unpleasant. But but there are there’s so many different ways that you can have like positive, like you can you can bring it around to a positive way you can any almost any difficult conversation can be had in positive ways. 

Charlotte Ward  2:53  

So do you think that looking back on the way you handle that situation, I’d love to know how looking back now how well do you thought you handled it? 

Ash Rhodes  3:01  

Oh God, I handled it horribly, no question. I handled it horribly. I think I cried. I was mortified in every single way. And eventually, this person and I reconnected and our and our communicating and everything, but I because of my guilt I like didn’t talk to her again for quite a bit because I was so mortified. Yeah, like, I definitely handled that wrong in every way because I was brand new, I was a little baby lead. You have to remember that, when you’re terminating somebody, it is probably it’s definitely the worst day of their week, month, maybe year. So try not to make it even worse. Don’t you cry, don’t you like don’t make it worse for them by …..

Charlotte Ward  3:51  

Right, don’t give them the extra …

Ash Rhodes  3:53  

…bringing your own emotions to the room. Yeah. Don’t make them feel guilty about it. be empathetic. Lay out the facts and try and help them understand the position that the company is in. But then help them through the situation and then end it, just end it. Don’t. Don’t drag it out any longer than you need to my very first one, like that termination last like an hour, like because I didn’t know what I was doing. And I dragged it out and dragged it out and so on. I actually had to terminate the employment of somebody, just probably four months ago, five months ago, this recent person, that call lasted probably about 5-10 minutes, not because I was like, all right, dude, you’re fired. You’re canned. It was because he and I had had multiple discussions about where he was where he wasn’t what he needed to be doing. And then he wasn’t meeting them. We got on the phone. We discussed the fact that he wasn’t meeting them. And that this is not the point where we’re going to have to part ways. And we discussed what that meant as far as like his final paychecks, and so on. And I thanked him for everything. And he actually thanked me for everything. And we were like, Okay, if you ever need anything, as far as a letter of recommendation, I’d be happy to write it. Have a great day, just help them get on with their lives. So I don’t know if that answers the question?  

Charlotte Ward  5:28  

Well, I mean, it raises more. If I’m honest, it raises more questions. Definitely. I mean, there’s a stark contrast that you’ve drawn that between those two experiences. And you’ve definitely described a number of factors that influenced the difference in the way you handled it and the way it was received as well. Right. In terms of being that young leader promoted from within the team, it was your friend, you were letting go. You were directed pretty abruptly into that scenario, as well. And so there’s a whole there’s a whole whole range of issues for want of a better word there in the handling isn’t there? And there’s a whole, a whole set of dynamics at play that could really they really didn’t set you up for success. Any of those single things gave you a much-decreased chance of handling that well, and for the person you were letting go handling it well.

Charlotte Ward  6:24  

That’s it for today. Head over to customersupportleaders.com/12 for the show notes, and I’ll see you next time.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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