The process of firing an employee is probably one of the least enjoyable tasks of being a boss. It’s uncomfortable, and it has a propensity to create opportunities for unwelcome drama in the workplace. But in many cases, it’s an inevitable business task. When an employee is underperforming or failing to meet expectations, they’ve got to go. Hopefully this won’t happen too often, but when it does there are several strategies that leaders can rely on to make the process a lot easier for everyone involved.
Don’t Wait Too Long
There’s a common refrain in management about terminations that goes, “Managers rarely regret firing a person too soon, but they often regret waiting too long.” Certain corporate policies might require a period of review and documentation, but it’s advisable to avoid delaying the termination if possible. The longer a supervisor waits, the longer the problems with the employee will continue.
Corporate policies aside, employers in Indiana can fire someone whenever they deem it necessary. It’s usually not an arbitrary decision of course, but one that should move quickly to avoid further headaches.
Acknowledge Internal Feelings
Firing someone is never emotionally easy, even if they’re a less-than-stellar worker. It’s particularly challenging if the employee is someone the manager has known for years. Or is someone with extenuating circumstances that make firing feel regrettable. Disrupting an outbound employee’s career and person life is certainly emotionally taxing.
Those feelings should be acknowledged and supported by the notion that actions were taken for the collective wellbeing of the company overall, and all the other people it employs.
Have a Partner
It’s highly advisable to include a company’s human resources department in all terminations. While it might sound cold, there are several things to consider regarding the optics of firing someone. HR will have more information about an employee’s big picture.
Like, for example, if the outbound employee is just about to cross an employment threshold that might qualify them for new benefits, days off, etc., then their termination might raise the eyebrows of your other employees. Not that a supervisor shouldn’t proceed as planned, it’s just better to proceed with an informed consensus.
HR should also participate in the termination meeting as well. That way they’ll be on hand to answer any parting questions the employee may have regarding things like ending benefits and pay. And their presence may add some extra support for managers.
Be Direct and Transparent
Termination meetings should always be held privately and in-person, to the extent possible, between managers, HR representation, and the employee that’s about to be terminated.
It’s best to be direct and open the meeting with the reason why everyone is there. Explain to the employee that today is the last day they are to be employed by the company. If the choice is made to explain the reasons why, try to be compassionate and transparent.
Also, don’t argue, debate, or make apologies from a personal standpoint. Ultimately, the responsibility for things progressing to this point belong to the employee, not management.
Discuss with Affected Employees
Some of the company’s teams may be affected by an individual’s termination, so it’s best to have an informative talk with remaining employees. Personnel decisions should always be kept confidential, so employees should only be informed in a direct manner. Causation and violation of policies can be referenced if applicable, but it’s best to avoid specifics. Just explain that the individual is no longer a part of the company, and their tasks will be reassigned in a reasonable way while a replacement is sought.
Uncomfortable But Important
Although it’s uncomfortable for most business leaders, firings are an important part of the process. Without them, companies would fall apart from within. By taking a little time to strategize beforehand, most people in managerial roles will be able to make the process a lot easier for themselves and for those effected. It’ll never really get better with practice, but it can get easier with planning.