Having to fire an employee is likely the hardest part of being a manager of any sort of business. While there’s little good that can come in the way of personal feelings after a termination, it’s necessary to keep a business going strong.
It’s important to be absolutely certain of your decision to let an employee go. Letting the heat of the moment make a decision for you can lead to a poor choice and possibly a lawsuit. It’s vitally important to make the employee aware of poor performance, provide them with the training necessary, and follow up with any targets or deadlines they have failed to meet. These should all be documented and ready for use at the time of termination.
Preparation is key, as it can reduce the amount of difficulty and awkwardness associated with the painful task of firing somebody. One thing to have ready is the paperwork, which can get the employee out of the office with minimal confusion. Final paychecks, severance packages, and information about returning of company property and their benefits should be at the ready.
To start with, find a place where the employee will be comfortable. Make sure the place is quiet and ensures confidentiality, and be sure that you can leave afterwards so the employee can digest the news.
As far as actually dropping the news, it’s best to be direct. “I’m sorry John, but we’ll have to let you go as of July 21st.” It seems rude, but dancing around the fact with small talk will only insult the employee.
Having a witness is a viable way to go, as it assures that the employee won’t pull any funny business as far as what you said while in the meeting. It’s also worthy to note that the employee will try to start an argument with you. This should be avoided at all costs, it’s better to just let them vent.
Having a good “end game” is essential to reducing discomfort. Be ready to answer questions such as “Do I finish out the day?” or “What do I tell my clients?” Make sure to have arrangements in place for such things.
Also provide contact information for someone at the company who can answer questions afterwards, and if you sincerely can help the employee, offer it, but if not, don’t bring it up at all.