We want to avoid unpleasant circumstances but sometimes we don’t have the power to do so. Firing someone is such an unnerving task that is equally hard and important. Often managers are required to fire poor performing individuals. It is just as hard for the manager as it is for the one who is being fired. Looking straight into the eyes and telling the person that he no longer has a source of income is not at all easy.

Firing incompetent employees is vital for the growth of a progressive organization. It makes room for new and competent minds to take over and help in smooth functioning of the company. It becomes crucial when someone is ‘poisoning the well’ and is causing regression.

Assuming that the person you are targeting is an “at will employee” i.e. there is no legal contract that binds him with the organization for a specific period of time, following tips could help you in firing an employee effectively.

Make Up your Mind:

You have noticed a slack figure in the office and your intuition does not like it. The thought of terminating the employee pops up in your head because that seems to be the right thing to do otherwise the ill behavior will become viral. Alright, you have the authority to do so. But keep in mind that this is a big decision especially for the target you have acquired. You need to have rock-hard reasons for firing this person. These reasons should be valid and such that this termination does not put you in legal difficulties.

Never Let it be a Shock:

Firing someone should never come as a surprise; rather it should be expected and hinted many times. Shocks can not only be bad for the other person’s health but they can prove to be dangerous for you as well. On hearing the news, a bad tempered employee might turn vicious and cause you harm.

Shape Circumstances for the Big Move:

Check you past records regarding this person. Have you been giving him a gold star or a raise each year? If you have been giving him good reviews and positive signals, this is surely not the right time to give the bad news. It will undoubtedly come as a shock. Start changing the air and start giving signals that the time to come is not too good.

Warn them at Least Once:

Everyone deserves a second chance. Don’t be too hard on your employee even if he is driving you crazy with his issues. Sit down with him are discuss the circumstances. Point out why you are unhappy with him and what he could do to improve his performance. It might turn out that he is not the root cause of the malfunctioning. Tell him what you expect of him and give him a limited period of time to correct his behavior. Make it clear that if he fails to meet the level of expectations, you have no other choice but to fire him.

Monday is the Best Day:

Fire on Monday or early in the week. Never do it on Friday or before a holiday. A fired person is obviously in an agitated state of mind. A holiday gives enough time to ignite the anger and the person might become resentful enough to give you trouble. If a person is fired on Monday, it is the time to move on and not linger on the past. Try to help the ex-employee find new opportunities and references. In this way, the person has no time to dream up ideas to destroy you; instead he is focusing on moving on in his life.

Say it this Way:

Make it short and to the point. It is definitely a hard time for the person who is being fired but don’t get caught in his emotions. Keep a box of tissues at an arm’s length in case the emotions start to pour out. Be compassionate and let him know that you are sorry.

  • Tell him that he has been terminated and it is expected of him to leave the workplace.
  • You don’t necessarily need to go into the details behind this decision. The person definitely knows the cause and discussing it again will do no good. Keep it short as you don’t want to get into a futile debate.
  • If the person objects to your decision, simply say that ‘I am sorry, I have made my mind’.
  • Discuss about the severance allowance and what benefits (if any) he would be getting after leaving your employment.
  • Make it clear what you will say if anyone calls you for a job reference. Try not to ruin this person’s future chances of employment.
  • End the meeting with a handshake and ‘Good Luck’. This will avoid ill feelings to grow.

Be Compassionate:

Being fired is a strong blow and the person facing it is in an intricate state of mind. He feels dejected, lonely and helpless. The fret about earning is also there. Be respectful to the poor soul and treat him with dignity. Everybody has a self respect and it should be taken care of. But remember, don’t cross the line and get caught up in the emotions.

Do not let the Ex-employee Linger:

Make the person, you have just fired, leave at once. His presence could be a call for trouble. His aggression might make the matters worse. Try to keep an eye on him so that he does not meddle with the company’s data, files and computer passwords. An angry ex-employee can steal important information and change computer passwords to sabotage the system and smooth running. Give him some time to grab his personal belongings from his workplace (under supervision) and expect from him to leave soon after. Don’t forget to retrieve any office keys or credit cards he might have.

Reassign Ex-employee’s Tasks Promptly:

Your sole mission is to ensure the smooth running of the company. An empty slot not only raises queries but also causes malfunctioning of an organization. The moment the terminated employee leaves the office premises, call your employees and tell them that an employee is terminated. Do not go into explicit details. This will prevent the news from spreading by grapevine. Then distribute the ex-employee’s tasks so that the company runs fine until you find a new person to fill in the vacancy.

Get the Task Done:

Terminating an employee is surely one of the worst tasks faced by managers but there is something worse than firing, and that is not firing him. Keeping a person in the team who is the origin of havoc or is not performing adequately is as bad as slow poisoning. It causes two kinds of problems. Firstly, it keeps on sabotaging the company and secondly, it gives the feeling to other employees that this kind of behavior is acceptable.

Raising the Bar:

Terminating an incompetent person helps in making other employees diligent. It instills the feeling in the employees that their every action is under hawk eyes and they need to be deliberate in every move. Of course it creates room for new and competent people to join the company and take it to the next level of success.

Be Sure you have Done the Right Thing:

Depriving someone of his means of earning seems devilish. But your conscience should be guilt free and sure that you have done the right thing. You have given the employee sufficient time to improve himself. You have treated him with respect and dignity and you have been fair in your decision. Finally this was the last right thing to do in order to be fair with your own position.

Life is not always about pleasant and desirable happenings. It is important to deal with unpleasant circumstances such that they cause minimal damage.

Note: This post does not deal with the legal issues regarding termination. Be sure that you are not violating state or federal laws. If you overlook these issues, they can drag you to court.

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