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How Do I Fire A Volunteer Who Isn’t Getting the Work Done?

Inc.com columnist Alison Green answers questions about workplace and management issues–everything from how to deal with a micromanaging boss to how to talk to someone on your team about body odor.Here’s a roundup of answers to five questions from readers.1. How do I fire a volunteer who’s not getting the work done?I am the president…

Inc.com columnist Alison Green answers questions about workplace and management issues–everything from how to deal with a micromanaging boss to how to talk to someone on your team about body odor.

Here’s a roundup of answers to five questions from readers.

1. How do I fire a volunteer who’s not getting the work done?

I am the president of a local industry society with an all-volunteer board of directors. We have a very large project that one non-board volunteer eagerly agreed to lead. It was supposed to start last fall, but due to circumstances beyond her control, it’s just now getting started.

We gathered up a dozen volunteers to help on the project and are having a kickoff meeting soon, but the volunteer still hasn’t contacted those people to let them know it’s happening now. I’ve followed up with her several times, and each time the response is “I’m working on it today” or “I’ll get it out this week.” I have spoken with this volunteer about ensuring she has the time to commit to this project and she reassures me she does, though I’m not seeing any action on her part. Over the last 10 months I’ve given her several opportunities to gracefully bow out, but she doesn’t take me up on it. It’s very frustrating. I’m ready to find someone else to lead the project, but how do I fire her?

Green responds:

Are you willing to give her one final chance or are you at the point where you need to remove her now? If you think she could have a final chance as long as it’s accompanied by a clear warning to her that there won’t be another, you could say this: “I know you’ve been really busy. We need X, Y, and Z to happen pretty urgently at this point. If you’re not able to do that by (date), I’m going to need to find someone else to lead the project. I hope you understand.”

But if you’re past the point where that makes sense, say it this way: “I appreciate you trying to make this work with your schedule. Unfortunately this is time-sensitive and I know your other commitments have gotten in the way of the timelines we’ve talked about previously. At this point, I need to find someone else to lead the project. If your schedule does clear up, we could talk about you participating in a different way.”

2. Did this job candidate mislead us about college?

I interviewed someone who seemed like an strong fit. The behavior, technical, and simulation-job-responsibility portions of the interview were all above average, and they were well-spoken and outgoing, both of which are important for the position.

As a policy, we always requests transcript for recent graduates which requires candidate approval. When we got this candidate’s transcript, we found that although they listed a moderately high major GPA on their resume, they failed many courses in their area of study, one class more than once, and throughout their whole college career.

At first, I was shocked and dismayed by the apparent lie: no way those F’s lead to that GPA. After investigating their school’s policy, it is likely that most, if not all, of those F’s would not be counted towards a GPA since they were retaken and passed within four attempts. So they weren’t lying, but I’m very concerned about the number of failed courses, even if they later passed most of them.

Should we call and ask the candidate about this? Is their behavior misleading? Would you hire a candidate that interviewed well upon finding out that they had failed multiple somewhat relevant courses? On one hand, we may be passing on a solid candidate haunted by tough times or poor decisions, but on the other hand we risk hiring someone who can’t follow through or is willing to sweep negatives under the rug.

Green responds:

If the school considers the person’s GPA to be, say, 3

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