Firing an employee? — Follow These 10 Tips on How To Do it Right!
October 25, 2017
There is no pleasant way to fire someone and it is often as hard on the person doing the firing as it is on the person being fired. If you’ve ever had to fire an employee, you’ll agree that it is one of the most horrible and highly-stressful things you’ve ever had to go through. But there are ways to handle termination sessions with less stress for all.
Study by Dr. Murray A. Mittleman of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston says, “having to fire someone increases the risk of heart attacks” because of the associated workplace stress related to letting go of an employee.
But sometimes, firing an employee is the only option. If you have an individual with poor performance who is affecting the company and you have called his/her attention several times, and given feedback for improvement and nothing happens, it leaves you with only one option – fire the person!
Here we identify ways to fire someone smoothly and gracefully without drama and without affecting the morale of the other employees.
1. Give a heads up. Before making the final decision, inform the employee about their performance and why you’re unsatisfied. Give them a chance to work on it maybe for a month before you take the final decision to fire them. An objective performance appraisal and coaching log conveys that if you’re still unhappy about their performance then you will have to let them go. Make sure you file this in writing as proof along with all other warnings and poor performance feedback. Check the employee’s contract to ensure it includes clauses on ownership of company data, etc.
2. Never fire on a Friday! This is one rule not to break. Fire someone early in the week because if you fire someone on a Friday, they can stew about it over the weekend and come back on Monday ready for a fight. The best day to do it is on a Monday morning or evening, so the person can start looking for a new job for the whole week.
3. Be resolute, clear, and brief. How your message is communicated can make a huge difference. Being fired is extremely painful, so having genuine empathy is important while you treat the person with respect and dignity. Don’t beat around the bush. Keep it short and simple.
Try this: “John, I am sorry but we have to let you go”. Tell the employee your valid reasons for termination and when it will take effect. Make sure there is no room for further discussion.
No matter how many people you have fired before, you will feel uncomfortable so you will be tempted to talk. Don’t! The less you say the more dignity the employee retains.
4. Make sure to have a witness. Having someone else present, preferably someone from the Human Resources or Legal department during the meeting will eliminate the risk of the employee filing an unfair dismissal claim and to prevent false allegations post-termination, the witness can record the meeting and also help in case the employee threatens to get violent.
5. Explain any benefits due. Be prepared to give the employee information on their severance pay, schedule of last paycheck and what’s going to happen with their unused vacation time, etc. All this information should be given to the employee in writing, because they are usually too emotional to listen clearly to those particulars at that point.
6. Never fire in a public place. Talk to the employee in your private office or a conference room. Make it a private place not at lunch with so many people around you. You don’t want to create a scene. Don’t humiliate when you fire. You can consider breaking the news when other employees are getting ready to leave or have already left. It’s bad enough to be fired but afford the employee the respect so he or she can leave quietly and with dignity
7. Control your temper. You don’t have to shout or show you’re angry. Be calm and act professionally. In case the employee can’t hold onto their emotions make sure you maintain yours. Never argue. If everything is certain about your decision and properly documented then there is no room for any argument. You may let the employee vent but don’t get into any debates.
8. Be sure firing is truly deserved. Don’t terminate an employee in the heat of the moment. It could lead to a lawsuit and it could have a severe negative impact on other employees. If a firing is in anger or undeserved, it sends a message of fear throughout the organization. Morale and confidence are shaken. However, if a firing is truly deserved – if an individual can’t do the job or has a bad attitude or has a destructive influence, the mass majority of hard working employees will recognize this and will respect the manager for the firing.
Close by thanking the person for his contributions to the company.
(Note: While it may seem odd to thank someone you’re terminating for poor performance, almost everyone makes some contributions. Ending on a good note can forestall future problems.)
– Dick Grote, author of How to Be Good At Performance Appraisals: Simple, Effective, Done Right
9. Ask them to leave immediately. Do not let the employee loiter. They have to leave the business premises immediately, after cleaning up their desk of any personal items. Have them escorted to the door, to avoid any stealing of company files, etc. Collect all office keys and other stuff from the employee. Or schedule a good time for them to get their personal things after office hours.
10. Reassign the employee’s tasks quickly. As soon as the employee leaves, call for a meeting to properly inform others of your decision and reallocate his/her tasks to other employees. Proper debriefing helps curtail rumors and other negative reactions that may arise from colleagues.
Remember that it is also your responsibility to set clear expectations with any employee BEFORE you hire them, during their employment and especially if you have to fire them. Firing an employee is one of the most difficult task for any manager. So, if you have to do it just do it right.
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