Firing someone is always uncomfortable. And if you haven’t had to do it yet, keep reading, because there’s a good chance you will.
When you find yourself delivering the bad news, here are five ways to take some sting out of the situation.
Employees should know exactly why they’re being let go. Don’t let the person make assumptions, increasing the odds of generating bad will. Remember, poor performance, gross misconduct, and layoffs are what they are — just tell the truth.
• Is your next meeting necessary? Ask yourself these questions before scheduling
• 10 tips for knowing when to stay quiet and just listen
• Knowing the difference between a purpose and a goal
Fairness is a major factor in how the employee and their peers will feel when someone exits the organization. Here’s a sure-fire test to know if you are being fair: Walk in that employee’s shoes. Would you feel like you were treated fairly by this process? Did you do everything you could to help this person succeed? If it doesn’t feel fair to you, then you have more work to do before you can have this conversation.
Whenever possible, have a conversation with the employee before the firing stage, stating that his or her job is in jeopardy. If the termination is due to gross misconduct — like stealing or lying on a résumé — then give a clear-cut reason. Get to the point, then stand up, offer your hand, and wish them well. If the employee falls into a difficult emotional state, give them time to pull themselves together. Just be patient, be kind, and be human.
Regardless of the circumstances leading to the termination, be professional and courteous. Losing your job is a terrible experience, even when it’s warranted. Always take the high road and act respectfully.
There are many details to consider during a termination: Could this employee become volatile? Do you need to take security precautions? Should HR be present? Your organization needs a well-documented termination process to follow to stay out of legal trouble, so never terminate anyone on your own. Ask HR, a lawyer, or another team member to support you.
Hiring the right person in the first place will prevent much of the firing problem, layoffs aside. Therefore, it’s smart to invest heavily in the front end of your people process — it takes much less time, and will help prevent the costly mess that firing entails.