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Chapter 1: The Non-HR Manager

Chapter 9: Disciplining Employees and Ending Their Employment

Sample activities

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1.2 Class Charter

9.1 Termination Scripts

Some Assembly Required 

Activity 1.2 

Class Charter

In Chapter 11 (Creating an Inclusive Workplace) we discuss the value of having groups of individuals who work together create a team charter. While Chapter 11 focuses on team charters in work teams, team charters can be used in the context of any type of team (including classroom-based teams). We’ve positioned this activity in relation to Chapter 1 (The Non-HR Manager) so that students have a hands-on experience with team charters (and their effects) across the entire course. Instructors will find the activity to be particularly valuable in courses that engage students in group work (e.g., group assignments or group discussions); high-engagement courses will give students many opportunities to enact their class charter.

In general, a team charter is a shared agreement about the team’s rules of engagement. The process of developing a charter allows everyone in the group to have a voice in creating the kind of environment in which they want to work and communicates that everyone is responsible for how the team functions. It also establishes shared expectations for participation and performance – how the team (and the individuals within the team) will work together and behave. The research is clear that teams that develop high-quality charters outperform teams that don’t; teams with high-quality charters are also better able to manage disruptive events.

In this activity, the instructor leads students through the creation of a class charter (introducing this activity in one of the first two class meetings is ideal). The process of developing a charter typically involves asking team members to reflect and answer a series of questions. For example, the instructor can ask students to consider their team’s (i.e., class’s) goals, members’ skills and styles, and members’ roles and responsibilities. Then, instructors can ask students to answer questions like: How do we want to give each other feedback on assignments? What do we do when members miss deadlines or have diverging views on content or quality standards? What are the ground rules (meeting schedule, attendance expectations, communication methods)? We have provided resources to help the instructor prepare for this activity below. In particular, we recommend that instructors consult Appendix B of the Hillier & Dunn-Jensen (2012) article. That Appendix includes material and questions that the instructor can share with students to help them develop the class charter. The instructor can have students discuss how transferrable their class charter experience may be to developing team charters in the workplace.

In addition to (or instead of) creating a class-wide charter, the instructor can have groups of students develop their own team charters in the context of a group project assignment. The instructor can then ask each group to share their team charters with the entire class and discuss their experience creating it. The class charter (and/or group project team charters) can be revisited in Chapter 11 (Creating an Inclusive Workplace). The instructor can lead students in a discussion of the role their charter played in creating an inclusive classroom environment and whether and how it was used to address exclusionary class related behavior.

Team and class charters:
Hillier, J., & Dunn-Jensen, L. M. (2013). Groups meet … teams improve: Building teams that learn. Journal of Management Education, 37(5), 704–733.
Madsen, S. (2022, January 6). How to create a team charter [Video]. YouTube.
Mathieu, J. E., & Rapp, T. L. (2009). Laying the foundation for successful team performance trajectories: The roles of team charters and performance strategies. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94(1), 90–103.
Sverdrup, T. E., Schei, V., & Tjølsen, Ø. A. (2017). Expecting the unexpected: Using team charters to handle disruptions and facilitate team performance. Group Dynamics, 21(1), 53–59.
Weimer, M. (2015, February 26). Use team charters to improve group assignments. Faculty Focus.

Some Assembly Required 

Activity 9.1 

Termination Scripts

Note: Scenarios are included in this document

Telling someone that their employment is ending is one of the hardest things that a manager can do. In Chapter 9 (Disciplining Employees and Ending Their Employment), we describe the consequences of fumbling this important conversation and provide some recommendations for delivering the news in a clear and compassionate way. In this activity, students receive one of two scenarios (downsizing or poor performance) asking them to tell an employee that their employment is terminated.

Instructors have a lot of flexibility in how they use this activity. They can ask students to create a termination script for one or both scenarios. Students can roleplay the scripts in the classroom, or record themselves (using their smartphone or within a one-person Zoom meeting) delivering the script outside of class. The roleplays/videos can be reviewed by the instructor or discussed in student pairs (pairing students who prepared different scenarios), in relation to the advice presented in Chapter 9. Did the student present the necessary information clearly and succinctly (termination meetings should be short and to the point)? Did the student deliver all the necessary information: (1) the fact that the employee no longer has a job, (2) the reason for the termination, and (3) the next step? Instructors can expand the roleplay by assigning students to play the role of the terminated employee with tips on how to respond (asking questions or arguing; displaying acceptance, sorrow, or anger).

Instructors also can follow this activity with a class discussion of “the day after.” The instructor could divide the class (based on the scenario they were assigned) and have students respond to these employee questions: Why didn’t the terminated employee show up for work? What does this termination signal about their own job security? Won’t their own workloads increase, now that they are down a team member? The instructor can return to this activity later to discuss the impact of organizational shocks on retention (Chapter 10, Retaining Employees).

Termination Script Scenarios

Scenario #1: Downsized Employee

Alisha Parks, 42, is employed in the Accounts Receivable Department at a Financial Services Company. Alisha’s primary responsibilities include identifying and notifying customers of overdue accounts by mail, email or phone. Alisha receives payments, posts amounts to customers’ accounts, and prepares statements to credit departments if customers fail to respond. Alisha keeps records of the collections made and the status of all accounts.

Alisha has worked in the Accounts Receivable Department for the past eight years and is an employee in good standing. The Company has recently decided to eliminate 30% of the positions in the Accounts Receivable Department to save costs. The company will be providing downsized employees with a generous severance package and the opportunity to work with a career counseling company for up to three sessions.

Scenario #2: Poor Performing Employee
Kate Toumey, 33, has been employed as a Client Services Representative at a Financial Services Company for the past three years. Kate’s primary responsibilities include responding to customers’ routine inquiries about products and services. Kate also helps to handle and resolve customers’ general complaints.

While Kate’s job performance was initially satisfactory, you have noticed a change in her job performance over the past year. Kate’s calls with customers are recorded, and you have found several of her interactions to be problematic. At times they sound impatient and, in some cases, downright rude. In addition, while some of her customer ratings are high, most are average and some are very low. You have had several conversations with Kate about her job performance and outlined what she needs to do (and not do) to improve. Kate has clearly not done these things.

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