Terminating an employee is a sensitive subject; people often don’t even want to talk about it, let alone actually do it. Firing an employee for the first time is absolutely terrifying for some; and often is something that doesn’t get much easier with time or experience. You are ending a relationship that you’ve built for months or years, and to make matters worse, you could potentially face lawsuits for wrongful termination if you say or do a something wrong in the process of teminating.
These fears are legitimate- don’t get me wrong. However, being able to terminate an employee is a skill necessary to being a good manager and building a successful business. Here are some important things to remember when thinking about terminating an employee:
- If you’re dissatisfied with an employee, communicate with them. They deserve to know what they’re doing wrong, to be given a chance to improve.
- Issue warnings in accordance with your company’s disciplinary policy. There needs to be documentation that your employee was struggling and proof that you are issuing formal and clear warnings.
- Utilize a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP). Create goals for your employee to meet and set deadlines for them to achieve them by. When used correctly, a PIP can be a great performance improvement tool. Keep in mind; a PIP isn’t the best option in all scenarios. If an employee’s negativity is outwardly damaging the morale of other employees, a PIP may not be necessary in terminating an employee.
- Be honest and respectful. This doesn’t give you license to be mean, but do be honest. Honest feedback on an employee’s performance and attitude has the potential to be a valuable learning opportunity. And don’t ever try to mask a termination as a layoff just to avoid a difficult conversation.
- Do not apologize. This will make your employee question your reasoning behind firing them in the first place, and potentially lead him or her to believe their termination was unjustified, which has the potential to make an already bad situation worse. If you’ve made your decision to terminate, be firm and confident in that
- If you keep thinking about firing someone- you probably should. In many cases, when an employee needs to be terminated, it has most likely been a combination of events that have culminated over the course of time. If your employee is causing problems in the workplace that have proven to be incapable of being fixed, you need to trust your gut and make a change, especially if that change will come at the benefit of your organization, morale, and productivity.
Overall, just don’t be AOL CEO Tim Armstrong and fire an employee in front of your entire company. Great leaders are those who treat their employees with compassion and respect.
Bryan Gillum is the director of CMax Advisors- an HR Consulting, Outsourcing, and Recruiting firm. As a talent management firm, we strongly believe in the power of individuals in determining a company’s success. Please let us know how we can help.