There can be many reasons why you need to let an employee go; they may not be performing up to your standards, they may be rude or disrespectful, or you may simply eliminate the position.
Regardless of why you need to let a staff go, you do have a choice in how you choose to notify them about it.
Some companies have Human Resource (HR) departments deal with the situation, while others have security walk out the person being fire.
But managers of small and mid-size companies often don’t have the luxury of a full-time HR staff, so they have to address the situation themselves.
It is important to remember that firing a person can be done humanely, especially with these tactics:
Evaluate The Situation
Some leaders are too quick in their desire to fire an employee; by observing someone who is underperforming, they choose to get rid of the person as the solution.
However, the boss also has some responsibility for the overall performance of staff.
If you see that a situation has arisen in which an employee is not working to their full potential, step in.
Managers should start with providing clear and regular feedback, so if workers need to improve, they know about it.
If after the first negative feedback the employee was not able to improve on their own, attempt to offer your resources.
Perhaps additional training is needed or a mentorship programme to help the staff catch up.
Only after several months of no improvement with the boss’s earnest help, should you evaluate the situation and consider firing the person; otherwise, the action may completely blindsight the employee, who had no idea that the boss wasn’t happy with their work.
Choose How You Speak
Clearly being polite and amicable during the conversation where you let the employee know that their job is terminated is recommended.
However, it is also beneficial to the person to be honest about why the firing is occurring.
Let the person know that although you have both tried to improve the work situation, unfortunately, there have not been enough advances to succeed in the position.
While you can state that you have valued the employee’s dedication, don’t try to over compliment them to soften the blow, otherwise it may end up confusing the worker.
Don’t assign blame, and use neutral language; instead of “you failed to” or “you did not try hard enough,” state that things are not working out.
Some organisations allow the employee being let go to choose their own exit timeframe. Perhaps some will not want to face their colleagues for the customary two weeks, being too embarrassed about being fired.
Others, on the other hand, may ask for a month before they have to leave for good to have additional time to find a new job.
Ask whether the person wants to make the announcement themselves, of whether you should do it.
Finally, consider providing references, or even helping in the job search; after all, even though the employee was not a good fit for your company, perhaps their strengths would be valued in another firm.
Remember that professional paths often cross sooner or later, so the way you treat an employee now can come back to haunt you.
Even if you have the unpleasant task of firing someone, do everything in your power to do so humanely.
Head of Training and Development
Originally published: 2 March, 2016
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