Letting people go is a part of the job as a manager, but that doesn’t make it easy. No matter your personal feelings, there is a certain way terminations should be conducted. Even poor-performing employees still need to be fired with dignity and respect. Here are several examples of what NOT to do when firing an employee!
DON’T fire them impersonally
Communication in the workplace has evolved to phone calls, IMs, and emails, but that doesn’t mean these are good options for letting someone go. As tempting as it may be to shoot off an impersonal email, you have the responsibility to do it the right way. This means being face-to-face in some capacity. Whether you can be physically present or over a video call, you need to be there with them.
DON’T neglect a plan
Firing an employee goes beyond just delivering the news. Having a checklist on hand ensures you go through everything, including reasons for the employee and then the next steps for your company. It’s a stressful time, but the plan keeps you focused and on task.
DON’T be unclear with your language
You want to deliver the news as cordially as possible, but this attitude can lead to uncertainty. Find a balance in your delivery that doesn’t come off as cruel, but doesn’t leave room for interpretation. They need to leave your meeting understanding why they are being let go.
DON’T make it out of the blue
Especially when it’s due to performance issues, you need to make sure the employee isn’t surprised. Take time to talk to them and document these conversations prior to letting them go. If it’s an issue of downsizing, be transparent with your company ahead of time.
DON’T do it alone
Because this is a high-emotion situation, you don’t want to be alone with the person you’re firing. A witness can help keep things calm and serve as backup should the situation go south. This way, instead of your word against theirs, you have a third party to provide information.
DO end on the positive
There may not be many positives, but find a way to end on a better note. Whether it’s informing them about their option for unemployment, tips for job seeking, or offering a recommendation, find a way to change the tone. This shift can help with the transition to them leaving and keep bridges from being burned.
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