One of the most difficult situations in the business world, besides having to fire someone, is being the one who is terminated. Being a manager is filled with many jobs that are not comfortable or enjoyable, but still have to be done. No matter how many times you have had to fire an employee, it should never become easy and should remain a little bit uncomfortable for you. That is just part of being a caring individual. When it comes down to it, the most important thing to remember is to keep it professional and to be firm, but compassionate. Always remember what it would feel like to be on the other side of that desk, hearing that you no longer have a job or a way to support your family.
Provide the Proper Warnings and Chance for Improvement
Unless it is a mitigating circumstance, make sure that you provide both verbal and written warnings along with time for improvement before firing an employee. Not only is this the professional thing to do, but it will also protect you and the company from future litigation. If you have followed your company’s policy, then it leaves less room for impending arguments. Make sure that you have provided extra training or support to the employee before you decide that they are incapable of fulfilling their job requirements. If you have exhausted all avenues before terminating an employee, then they are less likely to become upset. When they are faced with the fact that they no longer have a job, it should not come as a total shock. This being said, there are still those out there who are completely oblivious. My cousin is a manager at a local fast food chain and recently had to fire an employee for multiple no- shows. After the employee was told that if she did not show up for her shift over the weekend, she would no longer have a job; she had the audacity to call Monday morning and ask if they really meant that.
Praise in Public, Reprimand in Private
It is very important to speak to the employee in a private setting. It is less embarrassing for the worker, and will help reduce the gossip mill. Try to speak to the employee at a time of day when there are fewer employees around, such as at the end of the day or at lunch time. If at all possible, allow them to avoid the “walk of shame” back to their desk to collect their belongings, in front of their friends and peers. If it is not necessary, do not escort them out of the building with a myriad of gawking onlookers. The less humiliating you can make the situation for the employee, the better they will be able to handle it. You do not want to create a scene or unsafe situation.
Keep it Short and Simple
Stick to the main points and do not allow the employee to bring up past issues and discrepancies that are not relevant to the issue-at-hand. State simply and specifically the reasons for the termination. Focus on the goals that were not met and do not get side-tracked or allow them time to get overly emotional. Be firm and assertive, but not unnecessarily harsh. Inform them of what to expect as far as insurance coverage or severance package. If they realize that they will have some source of income, even if it is only unemployment, while searching for a new career; the individual will be less anxious and volatile.
Stay Positive and Encouraging
The worst thing that you can take away from someone is hope. Maybe they were not well suited for this particular job, but have other skills that would benefit them in another line of work. If possible, give them some constructive feedback as well. Let them know what they need to work on or improve in the future. Give them something positive to take away from this situation to make it a learning experience. If there are other companies hiring that would benefit more from their skill set, make sure to share this information. The most important thing is to remember how you would want to be treated if the situations was reversed.