Ever been faced tasked with firing an employee? It is actually difficult to deal with the responsibility of letting your staff go. Yet, every manager or employer has to learn how to fire an employee at some point.
You have to prepare for this even if you have a good working relationship with your employees.
In fact, it is more difficult to fire an employee who’s grown close to you.
No matter what the reasons may be, any good boss should know the best way to fire someone.
Using the proper way of dismissing an employee will help everyone move on with the least ‘damage.’
Why An Employee Gets Fired
There are plenty of reasons for companies to fire employees.
Among them, layoffs are the most heartbreaking.
Layoffs happen when the company can’t support its existing manpower.
Sometimes, they are strategic in keeping the business up and running.
They have little to do with employee performance.
It’s hard to fire an employee when the cause is not within his control.
It is often not easy to think of what to say when terminating an employee who has not done anything wrong. During these instances, effective communication and empathy come into play.
Other justifiable reasons for firing an employee include the following:
Stealing Or Damaging Company Property
It is reasonable to expect that employees will handle company property with care.
Damages, especially those that are intentionally caused, may disrupt work and productivity.
Remind your employees that the resources they’re using belong to the company.
Using them for purposes that are not work-related is not right or fair to the company.
Petty theft is also another common offense that a lot of companies do not regard as tolerable.
Sometimes, it’s not even the value of the stolen item that matters.
The act of stealing itself casts doubts on the honesty and integrity of the employee.
Integrity is an essential value that companies should expect from their employees.
It’s the foundation of trust, an important component in any professional relationship.
Lying, just like stealing, can have dire effects no matter how petty the lie is.
A single employee caught lying to a client may stain the reputation of the whole company.
Most employees lie because they’re trying to hide mistakes.
Encourage them to bring up what went wrong instead of covering it up.
Employees should always be at their professional best behavior.
Proper conduct signifies respect towards one’s co-workers.
In return, it also makes a person deserving of respect.
Unprofessional behavior interrupts workflow.
Several misconducts fall under this.
Being late or calling in ‘sick’ frequently is one of them.
Going to work drunk or high on drugs, of course, is unacceptable.
The best way to fire an employee, for this reason, is to explain to him what he did wrong.
If he’s open enough to improve himself, he should take what you say as a new start.
Employees need a safe place to work.
Employers have to ensure their physical and emotional health.
An employee reported for harassment should be investigated.
Harassment can come in the form of bullying, catcalling, and sexist remarks.
Employers need to put in place policies that will discourage harassment at work.
They should also make it clear that such actions are not tolerated in the workplace.
Dismissing an employee guilty of harassment also protects the image of the company.
As the saying goes, “a rotten apple spoils the bunch.”
Poor performers drag the rest of the team down.
Other people would have to pick up the slack or redo their work, wasting valuable time and resources.
Talk to these employees immediately to give feedback.
Warn them of the effects of their continued poor performance.
This would give them a chance to improve themselves.
When they fail to deliver a satisfactory output, you might not have a choice but to fire them.
Employees have the right to refuse or disagree with their employers.
But, there are proper manners and forums that can be used.
An employee who becomes confrontational, defiant, or violent could be guilty of insubordination.
You need to let go of employees who are consistently obstructive, disobedient, or unreasonably argumentative.
Employees in your team who do not respect members of the team will hold you back from reaching your goals.
Remember not to let your emotions get in the way and that there’s a proper way to fire someone.
Tips On Firing An Employee
It’s hard to think about what to say when firing an employee.
Looking someone in the eye and telling him/her that he’s lost his source of income is tough.
This could feel as horrible for you as the person receiving the news.
Yet, letting an employee go is a necessary evil in business.
Learning how to fire someone is a must for business leaders.
Most of the time, it’s for the best interest of the company and even the person who’s terminated.
You need to be careful when firing someone. Wrongful termination can put you t the risk of litigation.
The best way to fire an employee comes with preparation.
To make it less daunting, here are detailed tips for firing someone:
Release An Employee Handbook
All employees must have their own copy of this document.
They should also ‘agree’ to all the provisions in the handbook by signing an agreement to conform.
The handbook should contain all the company regulations and disciplinary policies.
Employees should also be informed about any changes or amendments to the handbook.
The handbook should clearly state what the grounds for termination are.
It may be used as a guide to determine if an employee should be terminated or not.
Document And Communicate Violations And Poor Performance
All violations committed by the employee should be properly documented.
Observe the protocols and impose sanctions according to company policies.
You may be accused of firing an employee for no reason if you do not have proper documentation.
Verbal warnings are not enough.
Termination should be a transparent process backed by paperwork.
It’s the proper way to fire someone.
The concerned employee should sign receipts of their warning memos and offense notices. These should be kept in their personnel files.
Be Consistent In Applying Sanctions
Take your policies seriously or else, your employees won’t.
Enforce your policies and dish out sanctions when offenses are proven.
Strike a good balance between strictness and leniency.
Be firm, but be reasonable.
Be consistent in your enforcement.
Protect yourself from being accused of picking on particular employees.
Make Time For A Thorough Investigation
Be careful to be too quick in passing judgment.
Before firing someone, conduct a thorough investigation.
You need to prove that the employee deserves to be fired.
Gather all the supporting documents for termination.
These include past performance evaluations or memorandums from the personnel’s files.
Conduct documented interviews with their direct supervisors and co-workers.
Their statements would support rightful termination.
Having an informed decision backed by facts eases the termination process too.
Give Reasonable Warning
Don’t keep your employees in the dark about their status in the company.
If their jobs are in danger, sit them down and explain the circumstances.
Remember to detail all that you’ve discussed in a written memo.
Give them a reasonable period of time to turn things around.
Provide a checklist of specific goals that will bring them back to your good graces.
The best way to fire someone is to make them feel that you’ve already given them a chance to save themselves.
If things haven’t improved after the grace period, then the termination is unquestionable.
In the case of layoffs, giving out advance notice is the compassionate thing to do.
It gives the employees time to look for other opportunities or settle their affairs.
Giving out warnings avoid unnecessary conflict in the end.
Your goal is for the employee to exit the company without any commotion.
Prepare For A Dignified Termination
Once you’ve decided to cut an employee loose, it’s time to schedule a meeting with him.
Firing someone should be done in private, away from the employee’s co-workers.
Remember to handle it with dignity and in a professional manner.
Involvement of the Human Resources (HR) is important in the termination process.
They can tell you what to say when firing an employee.
An HR representative should also witness the termination.
Before walking into the room, practice what you’re going to say.
This helps you to remain calm throughout the meeting.
Also, prepare yourself on the possible reactions of the person you’re firing.
Keep It Short And To The Point
When you deliver the bad news, keep the conversation brief, firm, and definitive.
Refrain from inserting unnecessary information as this can lead to more questions.
Don’t sugarcoat the reasons for termination.
Be clear and simple in choosing what to say when terminating an employee.
Always stay in control of the situation.
It’s understandable for them to lash out or be emotional.
Be calm as you listen to what they have to say.
You may follow these steps on how to fire an employee:
- Tell them that the company is letting them go and when their last day is.
2. In one sentence, tell them the grounds for termination. Don’t go into too much detail to avoid arguments. Just say “You failed to meet your performance targets.” or “Your behavior has defied our company values.”
3. You can allow them time to react. Yet, make it clear that you’ve made up of your mind. There’s nothing they can do about the situation.
4. Explain the pay or benefits they’re entitled to after they leave your company.
5. Inform them of what you’ll say when someone asks for a job reference about the employee in the future.
6. Be generous when you can.
There might come a time when you might be forced to let go of good employees.
You might have to terminate employees due to organizational reorientation. In such cases, it would be good for the company to be as generous as it can.
The company should make sure that the terminated employees are properly compensated.
This is especially true if the company can afford it.
They should ease the financial burden of losing a job.
Severance packages should help the employees leave the company on good terms.
It should also cover them for an estimated period of time until they find another job.
Don’t Allow The Employee To Linger
A terminated employee should leave the business premises at once.
This is to stop him from getting any bad ideas.
For example, he can steal or destroy computer data.
While the employee is being fired, it’s recommended to disable his computer access.
Upon returning to his desk, he won’t have the opportunity to sabotage the system.
Remember to collect office keys, company-issued vehicles, gadgets, and credit cards.
Remind them that they should only take their personal items with them.
No company materials should be taken from your premises.
There are times when a fired employee needs to stay around for a couple of days.
If this happens, consider if you should limit his access to files and company resources.
Moreover, make sure that he’s supervised at all times if you consider him to be a security risk.
After the employee has left, inform the team that the employee is no longer working for the company.
You do not have to give any details.
This is to preserve the dignity of the dismissed employee.
Ensure that the workflow is not drastically affected when the employee leaves.
Assign his duties to other employees as soon as possible.
Consider Asking The Employee To Sign A Release Of Liability
This matters when there are extenuating circumstances that are in their favor.
Firing a minority or a female over the age of 40 creates a bad impression on the business.
It’s true even if the grounds for termination are irrelevant to these circumstances.
The release of liability stops the employee from filing a discrimination case.
Your employment attorney can draft this for you.
To encourage the employee to sign the release, give him a strong incentive to do so.
One way is to increase the severance package.
How To Cope After Firing An Employee
These tips on firing an employee should already prepare you to get the job done.
Keep in mind that holding on to a bad employee is worse than firing him.
However, being prepared and accepting the responsibility of dismissing an employee isn’t any easier.
Here are a few reminders to keep in mind as you cope with the difficult task of firing an employee:
Keep It Strictly Professional
Compassion is an important trait of a leader, but it shouldn’t get in the way of making tough decisions.
When you fire someone for a just cause, stick to the reason and keep your heart out of the picture.
It’s part of your job to execute measures that will benefit the business.
You’re not looking out for a single person, but an entire team.
It’s up to you to hold people accountable for their actions.
Guilt won’t help the person you just fired.
It certainly doesn’t benefit you as well.
You have a lot more troubles to worry about.
Unwind And Recharge
Don’t let guilt get the best of you.
If you’ve already mastered how to fire someone, then you should be confident that it was done right.
It’s okay to feel heartbroken as long as you know how to move past it.
After an emotional day, give yourself a break.
Do something that helps you relieve stress.
Eat out with friends.
Go to the spa.
Play with your kids.
Do whatever it is that refreshes your heart and soul.
Then, embrace the challenges the next day.
Have A Confidante
A management position can get very lonely.
Sometimes you’re not sure of your decisions and have no one to discuss it with.
Having a trusted ally gives you the needed affirmation.
It’s important for this person to have an unbiased opinion.
They could be a friend who doesn’t work for your company but has a similar job as you.
It could also be your HR manager.
If you don’t want to second guess yourself, it helps to seek the opinion of others.
In doing so, be sure to keep in mind your employee’s right to confidentiality.
Remember That It’s For The Best
Letting an employee go is not just good for your business, but it can also be for that person’s best interest.
They’re now free to explore other opportunities where they are better suited.
Often, people land in jobs or companies that are not right for them.
Think of yourself as the executor of their destiny.
They may have failed you, but they can find success elsewhere.
Good managers trust that their decisions are for the greater good of the company.
They’re also optimistic about the fate of the person they fired.
Practice these useful tips for firing someone who has worked for you.
These should make it easier for you to deal with the difficult yet necessary task.
Do you think you have been armed enough to carry out a termination?
We would love you to share your thoughts!
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