It is always a hard state of affairs when you need to let an employee go. The situation is difficult not just for the person being fired, but for the manager breaking the news as well.
Once you’ve done everything else you need to, including sending a pre-adverse action letter, it will be time for a tough meeting. Remember, when an employee is not fulfilling the expectations of their job, feelings don’t matter.
Follow these strategies to let them down easily and move on without damaging your relationship or their reputation.
Follow These To Let An Employee Go Easily
Before biting the bullet and firing an employee, give warnings. Let them know any and all issues during quarterly performance reviews. List actionable tasks they can do to improve their work.
Do not fire anyone unless you can prove they did not measurably improve. Keep track of all issues, so you can be prepared in the event of a lawsuit from the disgruntled employee.
A firing should never be a surprise, warnings and chances are the only way for the employee to know they are on thin ice and need to change while still staying fair during the process.
Have A Witness
As a manager, you should always request an HR presence during a firing. Another person will be able to contribute to the conversation and avoid awkward moments.
A witness also helps lower the chances of legal action as they can prove you treated the employee fairly and equally while following all guidelines. A member of HR also can answer questions regarding severance pay, and the following steps of termination.
Protect yourself and the business and have a partner for this stressful situation.
Stay Firm And Have A Plan
You never know how people will react after hearing bad news. Even with those you think you know well, a sudden trauma can cause an unexpected reaction. Be ready for tears, and even a small breakdown from the person in front of you. Prepare some tissues and a glass of water.
But like any reasonable person, you will want to comfort them and try to make things better. This is not your job. Do not provide any false hope as that will only make the former employee feel worse down the road. You need to explicitly say they have been fired, so there is no possible miscommunication.
However, do not be a robot. Have empathy and highlight their positive qualities that will shine at another company. All hope is not lost, just this one job. Depending on the reason for firing you can even offer a letter of recommendation as a final kindness.
Time It Well
All companies have different policies on when is the best time to fire an employee. Some believe a Friday afternoon will provide a weekend to consider their unemployment in peace. Others think early in the week is ideal as the employee can start looking for new work immediately. Whatever the day, late afternoon is recommended, so they can leave the building at a normal time and avoid the humiliation of walking past their co-workers.
At least consider when you schedule this meeting with some intention.
As emotionally draining and hard as it is for you to deliver this bad news, it will be worse for the terminated person. Do not say “I know how you feel” when you cannot possibly know.
Just treat them with respect and dignity and help them leave as fast as possible.
In the end, the fact that is so difficult to fire someone helps protect worker’s rights and reminds you that you care about others.