Letting someone go is probably one of the hardest thing you have to do as a small business owner. In a big company the firing is passed down to the the next manager, but what should you do if you own a small business and the dirty work belongs to you? Here are a few tactics you should incorporate in your behavior next time this unfortunate event occurs:
As a business owner you are familiar with the necessity of keeping records. It is important not just for your own individual protection but also for the sake of your business. Always keep records of all your employees and their performances even if they only work part time. Keep records of the payments made to them, any founded complaints from peers or customers, and any changes in their work load. Make sure that the employees are aware that they are being monitored from the beginning of their job with your company. The employee you are about to fire should already know the conditions of employment upon the time of hiring so that they would not be surprised if one day they get fired. If an employee continues to be tardy keep that on record as well.
Have a weekly or monthly report on each employee and hand out a copy to them at your monthly meetings. This way they can see their progress (or lack of) and understand the consequences. Of course, at times, firing on the spot is necessary if the employee violated the policies of the company in a manner that there is no resolution; for example stealing from the company and being caught on the surveillance camera.
Have a reason
Always make sure you have a reason for the firing. It could be that it is a downsize in business or that the employee doesn’t perform well and is not willing to change their attitude. Know what you are about to tell that employee when they get in your office. Don’t just say: “You are fired, so clean your desk!”.
Do not embarrass employee in front of peers
When firing someone do not do this in public but take them to your office instead and kindly explain to them the reason for their firing. If they did you wrong, punishing them in front of others will not resolve anything. Making an example out of them is childish. Let your doing and releasing them from their job do the talk. It is your business, not the entire office. The rest of your employees will find out the reasons sooner or later. More likely they saw it coming just like you did. On the other hand, the employee in question could be a valuable individual but you just need to downsize and therefore cut jobs. Often companies cut jobs on Quality control positions (which is not always the best thing to do) but they are willing to take the risk to have a faulty product in order to save some money. If you hate to let this employee go but have no choice, appreciate his or her time with your business and thank them for all their hard work. If you know of another business hiring, you could refer them there. You may even want to keep their names on file if a position comes open again with your business.
As a business owner you don’t have the time to babysit employees, but you can still be compassionate. Ask yourself how would you feel if you were in their shoes? Probably very disappointed in yourself. If you do anything find the good in those employees and try to direct them to another job that may fit them better.
Before you fire someone get your records together and be fair. There is no easy way to do it, but there is a smart way. For legal advice speak with an attorney at law. If you don’t have records on this employee, consider giving him or her another chance until you get it together. Don’t make mistakes because the wheel goes around and around to many times.