The Best Ways to Fire Somebody

It’s hard enough letting someone go.

Here’s how to make the situation better for both parties.

“You’re fired!” In another life, our 45th president made quite a name for himself with those two words. Of course, it’s never that easy to let an employee go, so if you find you must, you need to handle it correctly. Here are some tips to prepare for — and crucial steps to follow — the meeting:

Outline what you’re going to say

Letting an employee go can be gut-wrenching. To help prepare, outline your case prior to the meeting and include specific incidents that led to your decision. It might help take the emotion out of the conversation. A defined conversation also benefits the employee as the reasoning is clear and concise, which helps give everyone closure.

Go through the proper channels

Before terminating an employee, review the documentation you have saved about the person’s work performance. Then give that information to the department that handles hiring and firing to make sure it supports your case for firing. If you don’t have an HR department, the Home Furnishings Association can guide you to an employment law expert in your state. After the person is let go, curiosity will take over among other employees. Make sure to discuss it with others at work, but do not go into specifics.

Document the experience

Document the entire process, including the steps taken, the reasons, evidence and follow-up related to what the employee noted during the experience. Some workers take legal action, so it’s important to document everything.

Plan for professionalism

Letting an employee go doesn’t have to involve screaming. In fact, it should always be handled on your end in a calm, professional manner. Often, if you need to let someone go, you will know months ahead of time. Give the employee ample opportunity to meet the expectations you’ve communicated to him or her in writing. Then set up a meeting and give the employee written notification. Try to keep the tone of the meeting dignified and quiet. Plan for professionalism, and you will get through the moment well.

Be succinct and kind

A termination is hard for the person on the receiving end. He or she will have to go home and explain to loved ones what happened. So you should be specific, clear, succinct and kind. Tell the employee why this is happening and what to expect in terms of final pay and benefits. Then prepare a graceful exit.

Give them transitioning tools

Sometimes you hire good people who just aren’t a good fit for the position. If that’s the case, think of how you can help with their transition. Perhaps you can provide free tools to help with their resume and a couple of months of online courses to assist their new job search. If you feel they deserve it, offer to give a recommendation. Just be sure your recommendation doesn’t contradict the reasons you let them go.

Revoke access immediately

You’ve informed the employee of your decision. That’s only part of your job. After the meeting, immediately revoke the ex-employee’s access to company social media accounts, servers, online services and all other infrastructure. With feelings running high, a disgruntled employee can do a lot of damage.

Communicate with your team

The best way to prepare for the before and after stages is to keep morale high in the office. If someone is let go, failing to clearly communicate with the rest of your team can raise anxiety if others think they are expendable. Make them aware of their value and job security.

Fill the position quickly

Leaving too much time between letting an employee go and hiring a new one can increase the team’s workload and stress. Everyone likes to save money, but not at the expense of your staff’s morale.

Make the transition orderly

When you fire a sales associate, have that employee’s work information and contacts. Then reach out to those clients and let them know who can work with them. It’s not just your store that will be affected. Your customers might be, too.

Learn from the experience

In this era of social media and electronic communication, your entire workforce may know about the dismissal within a half hour. The fired employee will tell any story that makes him or her look good — even if it makes you look bad. Expect a period during which successful employees look to you for reassurance about their own jobs.

Firing someone is something you’ll need practice with to get “better” at. Once you’ve learned how, and when firing is necessary, you’ll be exponentially better at hiring and managing.

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