When you’re the boss, you know you’re about to have a bad day when you come to the realization that you have to hand out a pink slip to someone. Of course, ideally you have done everything you could to avoid having to take this final step. After job coaching, reprimands and probation, you’re left with the decision that you have to just let them go. So, what is the best way to accomplish this without escalating an already emotionally charged and awkward situation?
Before you resort to firing an employee, do whatever you can to salvage the job. This means working with them on issues of performance, appearance or behavior as they arise. Don’t wait until it becomes an insurmountable obstacle. Document, in detail, every step of the way. A paper trail leading up to a termination can be a valuable resource if the employee wishes to dispute your decision.
Don’t react in anger
While dealing with a problem employee can be frustrating, as an employer, you have to rise above and take the high road. If a situation arises where you have to fire someone on the spot, try to be as calm and collected as you can be. Ideally, you’ve taken steps previously to correct the employee’s behavior. If these corrective measures have taken no effect, the best course of action is to calmly explain the consequences. Remember that the rest of your workforce could potentially witness the event and how you react to provocation can leave a lasting impression.
Don’t make them wait
If you have decided to let an employee go, make it as quick and painless as possible. This means having all necessary paperwork done. Be ready with answers to questions about benefits and final paychecks or any letters of recommendation. If another person is part of the exit process, be sure they are immediately available to make the situation progress as smoothly as possible. The worst feelings arise when the employee is made to wait around while you collect information and exit paperwork for them. It’s much smoother if you are prepared.
While most employees that are being fired will go quietly, some may argue or wish to discuss matters further. You can avoid confrontation by letting them know upfront that, while you’re willing to discuss the issue, your mind is made up and nothing that will be said can sway that decision. Don’t give them the impression there may be some sense in trying to talk you out of firing them.
Don’t approach the subject in a roundabout way, instead, be direct and to the point. The employee doesn’t want to sit through a lengthy explanation any more than you do. Job termination isn’t pleasant for anyone involved. There is no need to drag it out. Only offer assistance if you are actually able to give it. Don’t lead with phrases like “If there is anything I can help you with…” if you can’t actually do anything for them. By all means though, offer a letter of recommendation, if it’s applicable and you can recommend the employee truthfully.
Letting an employee go is never a pleasant conversation. You probably won’t feel good about it, but you can make it easier on both of you by following this advice.