You may be completely comfortable hiring and managing your staff, but how do you feel about firing an employee? Like many business owners and managers, you may be uncomfortable at the idea of possible confrontation. But if you have employees who are lying, stealing, or simply not being productive, this is an imperative skill you need to develop, if you hope to make your business successful.
Tip 1: Know Your Reasons
If you flounder in situations of conflict, you’ll want to prepare yourself for the event of firing your less-than-satisfactory employee. He’ll want to know why you’re firing him, and that’s fair. Keep emotions out of it. It should be a cut-and-dry case: he wasn’t meeting your expectations, or he broke the rules.
If you only suspect he stole from you or lied, do your due diligence before you resort to firing, or you could end up with a lawsuit on your hands.
Be prepared for some arguing on the side of your employee. Few will simply accept that they’re fired without a fight (especially the guilty ones!). Keep it black and white: you have rules, and he didn’t follow them, so the relationship cannot continue.
Tip 2: Be Firm but Kind
Some employees will fall apart when fired, so expect all kinds of emotions, from anger to sadness. You don’t have to be a jerk about it, but you do need to make it clear, in no uncertain terms, that your word on the matter is final. Do offer kindness if you can; tell your soon-to-be-former employee about unemployment benefits or make some recommendations for improvement that can help him at his next job.
Tip 3: Make it a Last Resort
Your employee should never be surprised by you firing him. If you have given warnings about his behavior already and he still hasn’t heeded them, he shouldn’t be surprised that he’s getting sacked. But you don’t want to make the decision rashly if there are other ways to deal with a negative situation.
Make sure you’re clear in your employee handbook and during training what is expected of your staff. If you want to fire someone for browsing Facebook when he was supposed to be working, you better have a policy explicitly stating that this is not acceptable behavior. (Yes, it’s common sense, but a lawyer will find a loophole if you don’t cover all your bases).
Tip 4: Hold the Meeting Privately
Can you imagine anything more degrading than being fired in front of your coworkers? Of course not, so don’t put someone else through it. Not only do you want to give the employee you’re firing a bit of dignity, but it’s private business, and not something your other employees need to be privy to.
Also, asking your employee to step into your office with the door closed gives you time to cool down, if you’re angry about the situation. A cooler head will be more successful in this situation.
Tip 5: Have Your Contingency Plan in Place
If you were to fire an employee right now, who would cover his shift? Would you make him take his belongings and not return to your office? These are questions you need to address prior to actually firing your employee, or you might end up shooting yourself in the foot.
It’s never fun to fire someone, but it’s often necessary. Get your game plan and keep level-headed, and you’ll do just fine.