A few months ago I wrote an article called “The Nine Steps To Take if You Get Fired” It’s tough as we take it personally and often we do not have a plan b or c. So in that article I discussed some ways to deal with the pain and aftermath of being fired.
As we get into the 2nd half of the year and companies assess their revenue and income, many of us face the daunting task of having to terminate some of our people. So what’s the best way to fire someone?
During my corporate career, I fortunately did not have to do this too many times, but I witnessed numerous situations and was close to many it happened too, including myself. It was never easy, because whether you liked the person or not, they have families, they normally trust the company and to many it comes as a surprise. Their world has suddenly been turned upside down.
The problem with many people and companies is that they find this task so difficult. Why? I believe it is because it is personal and it is the ultimate business confrontation. Telling someone they have to leave.
Have you ever had to do it? Have you ever thought, I would have handled that differently? Did you make a list of how to improve on the process or just hope it would never happen again?
Well, it probably will and so here’s that short list you never made, just to get you started. Is there a painless smooth way to fire someone? Perhaps this list will help you set the stage.
1. Choose the right environment
I was once fired in a taxi on the way to the airport in Stockholm. Classy. Don’t protect yourself from behind a desk, go to a meeting room so it’s more of a neutral environment.
2. Allow dignity in departure
I coined a saying when I was with an agency and we had to fire some people in Latin America. “Allow employees to leave with dignity.” We may have made a mistake in hiring them or the company may have been mismanaged and they were fallout, so allow them some dignity in departure.
3. Don’t Say It’s Not Personal
Many, including myself, will take such a decision as personal. Well, it is isn’t it. They are not firing someone else they are firing me. It IS personal. So don’t say it isn’t, but you can say it was a business decision. Thank them for what they have done. Remember, very few of us deliberately set out to get fired!
4. Make it short and state the reasons
Explain that the firing is “for the cause,” but avoid going into detail about the grounds for termination. You don’t want to start an argument and ensure they realize the decision has been made and is not up for discussion.
5. Use a checklist
Think about the meeting and plan it. It’s a tense time and often the employee is in shock, even if they knew they weren’t performing. So have a check list to help you go through all the points that need to be mentioned such as when they are expected to leave, what the termination conditions are and how you will deal with any reference requests.
6. Have someone with you
This is sometimes a legal necessity, but it is also advised as it can prevent an argument developing. It will also be the person that escorts them to their workplace and from the place of work.
7. Let them have their say
They may have no views or strong views. Listen to them if it helps deflate the situation but not too long that it slows down the process.
8. Have them leave quickly
Rumors start flying around as soon as someone is terminated. Don’t ask me how the grapevine works and words get out, but it does. So, arrange for someone to accompany them to their workplace and agree on the personal things that will be sent on. There is nothing worse than having someone start to clear up their things in a prolonged and upset manner whilst others are pretending not to watch.
9. Rapidly communicate the firing
As soon as the employee leaves the premises, call together their peers and any direct reports and tell them that the employee is no longer working for the company. This should not be a prolonged meeting but just to inform them they have gone and what the plans are to re-assign their duties.
I DO believe that we should allow dignity in departure. I would hope that you do too.
This is never easy to do. But if you follow the process above and have a checklist it will be easier for both the employee and for you.
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