Having to fire an employee is never a pleasant situation for anyone involved, but there are definitely right and wrong ways to go about it. Thankfully, I have never experienced being fired, but in the time that I managed two salons, I was given the unpleasant task of letting several people go.
The actual legalities of firing an employee vary from state to state, so as an owner or manager you should already be familiar with what procedures are legally required regarding final paychecks etc.
There are a few situations that may warrant the immediate dismissal of an employee, like theft, violence, or illegal behavior.
I once had an employee who misplaced several hundred dollars out of the cash register, which was noticed at closing. After several hours of combing through book work to try to find it, and even checking the garbage to make sure it hadn’t accidentally been thrown away, my supervisor advised me to call the police and file a report. Upon the police investigation it was discovered that the employee had given a client the missing money with her change. Whether this was a premeditated scheme or just extreme carelessness, my supervisor advised me to fire the employee immediately.
In most cases the employee has been repeatedly violating workplace policy and has been given written and verbal warnings. In these instances the employee has been given a fair chance to improve or change their behavior, and they are aware of the consequences if their behavior continues. Sometimes and employee isn’t aware that they are violating policy or acting in appropriately and a warning will correct the behavior. If not, you as a manager or owner have ample documentation of the ongoing problem and are justified in letting the employee go.
In my opinion, one of the most important things you can do when firing an employee is to remember that it is business, not personal. It’s human nature to feel empathy for someone, but if they have repeatedly violated policy and are hurting your business, you shouldn’t feel guilty about letting them go. This also holds true when you are angry with the employee. Don’t allow yourself to become emotional, keep it businesslike.
It’s usually a good idea to take the employee somewhere private, away from coworkers and customers, in case things get hostile. In most cases people will not lose control when you fire them, but some people are unstable and it is a tipping point. Be prepared.
Firing someone is the least favorite part of every owner or manager’s job, but with some preparation and fairness is can be a smooth transition for the business.