With that promotion to manager or partner, it may be inevitable that you’ll have the vexing task of firing an employee somewhere down the line. Besides Donald Trump, there are likely few people who seem to find pure glee in the firing process. For whatever reason the firing is happening, here are a few steps to do it the best way possible.
Cover Yourself and the Company
Make sure your employee is aware that they may be in the hot seat soon. Before firing, give the employee clear warnings and a specific amount of time in which you expect that they improve their performance so a firing isn’t a surprise. Keep records of all of the dates and times your employee didn’t comply with your business’ rules, as well as lists of when these issues were discussed with your employee.
Keeping adequate records and making sure there is a solid reason for the firing can be extremely helpful should the angry employee decide to sue.
A Little Privacy
Have a box of Kleenex on-hand at the firing for the employee, but don’t let your emotions get the best of you. Keep the conversation brief and professional. A witness should be in the room, too, to take note of the proceedings, though the firing should be done in a private spot with a door for added privacy.
Turning Over the Keys
Ask the employee to turn over any company property like credit cards or office keys immediately. Have their passwords changed, too, even as the firing is happening to avoid a ticked off employee mass e-mailing a nasty note to the company’s clients or trashing computer files in a fit of spite.
Gather your other employees and quickly let them know that “so-and-so” is no longer an employee. It hits the rumor mill in the bud in case the terminated employee wants to let everyone know a skewed side to their firing story. Plus, your other employees will know exactly what they need to do to cover the work that needs to be continued.
An angry or hurt employee needs time to regroup their thoughts and let the news sink in. If possible, let them go home and come back another day either right before work starts or right after normal work hours to clean out their desk and collect their personal belongings. Make sure you are present to see that they take their belongings with them and don’t take time to deface or steal company property.
Which Weekday Works Best?
The BusinessInsider.com suggests nixing the idea that an employee should be let go on a Friday when the work week wraps up. Actually, do it on a Monday morning so the employee can get on with his or her job search. An employee fired on a Friday has a whole weekend to sit around, marinating in their hurt, possibly allowing their negative attitude towards the company to elevate, resulting into childish pranks or even violence.
Take a Deep Breath and Do It
Procrastinating because you don’t want to do the dreaded deed can be as bad or worse than doing the actual firing. “Holding onto an employee who’s not performing or wreaking havoc with your business poisons your workplace in two ways: It allows the harmful behavior to continue, and it sends signals to other employees that they can get away with similar behavior,” writes small business author, Cliff Ennico, in his article, “The Right Way to Fire Someone”, for Entrepreneur.com