Written by: Francesca Allsopp-Pick
Having to fire an employee is never going to be easy no matter what the working relationship is. Very often giving the bad news can be just as dreadful as the person receiving it. Yet in this commercial world, there is little room for sentiment, so follow these tips on how to fire someone correctly.
Don’t act on impulse
It may be very tempting to pretend your Lord Sugar in a fit of range and shout those famous words “You’re fired!” at your employee, but not terminating your employees contract in the correct way could land you in very hot water.
Be certain that all one to one’s and appraisals along with any past problems, have been thoroughly documented. This of course should be par for the course as a manager, but holes in your records could produce future problems. If you are in any doubt as to whether you have enough evidence to terminate the contract, wait a while and then diligently document all incidents to ensure your “ducks are in a row”.
Enlist help of the experts
It is essential to work closely with HR and your litigation team to ensure you have followed all processes correctly. If you are a small business and do not have such luxuries as an HR department, then there are plenty of HR consultancies that you can enlist to help you do this. If you are a member of the Federation of Small Business you will have access to free legal advice to help guide you through the correct protocol.
This may sound dramatic but even the most mild mannered employee can throw a wobbly when they realise they are being sacked! Depending on the size of your business, you may want to alert security guards, inform those in IT to protect any vital data that the employee may be tempted to delete, or if you are a one man band, change the locks to your premises if they have a key and change any access passwords.
When bad news is coming, it’s better to get to the point precisely and clearly whilst being tactful and sensitive. Talking round the subject, losing your point or forgetting some vital element is going to be painful not just for the employee but also for yourself. If you are nervous, bullet point what needs to be said and practise in your own mind so that you are clear.
If the employee has been the thorn in your side for some time and deserves nothing more than to be fired, it can be tempting to act a little smug in the process. However tempting it may be, remaining dignified and respectful towards the employee will be of benefit in the long run. You can never truly know a person’s circumstance that places them in a position which results in being fired, so be tactful and empathetic. You never know, it may be your gentle “kick up the backside” that can help somebody to re-evaluate their behaviour and turn their life around. Better to be remembered as the person who helped them onto the right path than the sarcastic tyrant who crushed their soul.
Sacking someone with the entire office eaves dropping in, is not only disrespectful but unprofessional. Take the employee somewhere private where you won’t be interrupted and preferably somewhere where they can remain alone afterwards to gather themselves before returning to collect their belongings. It is never going to be an easy task, but how you go about it can speak volumes for your reputation. Your staff on the floor know better than anyone who is and isn’t a good worker and if they know that you have done the task in a sensitive and professional manner, you will continue to receive respect from your peers. As a friend once told me, be careful how you treat people on the way up, as you may be meeting those people again on the way back down!