You’re Fired!

“The Donald” makes it look so easy on television.

Firing someone is never fun - but it can be necessary for both you and them.By Royale Class

In reality, terminating your relationship with an employee is never easy – but can be both necessary and beneficial to your business.

Mismatched Personalities, Cultures and More

The reasons for terminating an employee’s position can range from a personality mismatch between them and the management in place, a culture mismatch, an inability or unwillingness on the part of the employee to perform job-related functions or it can be the disruptive, often absent or perpetually late employee. In any case, letting it go on for too long is dangerous to both the profitability of the Company and morale of the other employees.

You’ve made the decision, you’ve talked it over with a trusted advisor or two – but now it’s time for the employee to go. How do you terminate that relationship gracefully?

Don't wait until Friday afternoon.

As in many aspects of business: preparation is key. Careful planning before the termination can limit misunderstandings, anger and recrimination. Preparation includes having all the documentation prepared up front, including a letter outlining the terms of the termination. Have a clear mental picture of all the circumstances that led to the termination decision. Finally, give yourself the chance to get over the guilt associated with terminating the employee – this pain is temporary and the benefits will come.

Secondly, make sure that you set up a date, time and place for the meeting. Firing an employee over the phone can be tempting – but the most professional way to do this is face-to-face. Set up a quiet and confidential meeting place in advance. A conference room with limited windows and doors that close can be a good choice. If you think that the meeting might get ugly, you may choose to hold it at a neutral location, such as a Starbucks, as people are much less likely to cause a scene in a public setting.

As in many aspects of business: preparation is key.

There’s never a good time to tell people, “you’re fired,” but don’t wait until Friday afternoon. Choose a time that gives them an opportunity to regroup and to start networking. A time when the office is slow, like lunchtime, can also be a good choice, as the office may be relatively empty – giving them a chance to clean out their space in relative privacy. Also, be absolutely sure to check the office calendar to avoid embarrassing situations. There was a case reported where an employee was terminated on “Take My Daughter to Work Day,” and the security guards actually escorted both the man and his 8-year old daughter out of the building. That’s bad publicity waiting to happen.

You’ve spent a lot of time planning and preparing – but actually firing someone only takes a few minutes. As harsh as it may sound, be sure to use specific words like “terminate” or “let you go.” Be sure to stick to the facts, and don’t let your emotion get the better of you while defining the terms of the dismissal. Be professional, honest and direct. Don’t give a laundry list of the employee’s faults – the decision has been made, simply convey it directly and succinctly and let the employee move on. Importantly, do not apologize for taking this action, and be sure to tell them when their departure is effective.

How you deliver this information can be the difference in the employee’s reaction. Certainly, no one will be happy that this is happening to him or her, but preserving their dignity and doing it respectfully can allow them to respond with dignity. In the case of any anger or hostility, don’t engage them on those terms. Close the conversation by giving the worker credit for the effort he or she has put forward. Depending on the situation, you might offer your support in the form of a reference. Always attempt to end the meeting by shaking hands.

The conversation is over, and the employee has left. End of the line? Not a chance. You have one more task left: communicate to the rest of the team. Let the team know of the termination. It doesn’t have to be a long-winded explanation – and avoid specific details of why the person was terminated. The terminated employee has a right to privacy, and you have a chance to show the rest of the team how you’ll act, and how they’ll be treated, if it has to come to that.

Firing someone is never fun, but it is a business necessity. Hopefully, you won’t do it too often in your career – but in the event that you must, the tips above can make the process a bit smoother – for you and them.

Until next time, I've gotta 'Lotta opinion about everything
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PS: If you haven't already, take a look at "The Anti-Staffing Agency Manifesto" and see how we're waging the talent war on a whole new level. We'd love to hear from you and to know what you think.

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