Often times considered one of the most dreaded parts of being a supervisor, letting an employee go is not exactly an easy task. You know that great, jubilant feeling you get when you’re about to call and offer someone a position? Well, take the opposite of THAT, and mix it with all of the technicalities of tact and legality, and that’s what you often times get when firing an employee. Not the sunniest of topics, we know, but a necessary side of the employment coin to discuss.
As with every task, there is a right way and a wrong way of going about severing ties with members of your work force. You don’t want your ex-employees sullying you or your company’s good name (the Internet can be a cruel, cruel place these days), or even worse, lawyering up and trying to nab you for some line of legality you may have tiptoed too far over.
In this CareerBuilder article “What to Know about Letting an Employee Go,” many tips have been outlined to ensure the firing process is as smooth as possible (and although likely not “pain-free,” as painless as possible as well!) Do you have any tips on how to let employees go, the right way?
Keep It Quiet
It is important that you carry out your intentions with class. Only the employee’s direct supervisors should be told about the termination decision in advance. An advance leak of a firing can only worsen the situation, while keeping it quiet allows the employee to save face.
You have to consider the best location for letting someone go. Sharing this type of news with a possibly unsuspecting employee should never be done in a public setting, with “public” being defined as anywhere others can see or hear you. Also, it should preferably not be done in the employee’s office, as your employee may consider you to have invaded their “turf”. The best location would either be in your office, with the door closed, or in a neutral setting like a conference or break room.
It’s About Time
It used to be the general consensus that late Friday afternoon was considered the ideal time to drop the hammer on an employee. But experts in the Human Resources industry now believe that earlier in the day, or even the week, is a more appropriate time to deliver the bad news.
Quick and Painless
After deciding upon the right time and place, gather the employee and any other managerial personnel together and get to the point quickly. Briefly explain to the employee that they are being fired. Summarize the main reasons for the firing. If you are offering severance pay, detail the severance offer, and present the employee with the forfeiture document to be signed if the severance is to be paid.
Also, now is the appropriate time to answer any questions the terminated employee may have, even if they interrupt you. A termination can be extremely emotional, so don’t be surprised if the employee doesn’t hear the basic message or doesn’t understand the details of their firing. You may have to restate all or part of the termination.
Once you and the employee appear to be on the same page, explain to them any post-termination work options. Some employers offer to let the employee clean out their office or desk now, or you can mail any personal belongings to them later. If the employee elects to have you mail their belongings, have two people oversee the cleaning process to be sure that all of the employee’s personal possessions are mailed.
As long as the employee does not lose control, extend him or her every reasonable courtesy and offer the person an opportunity to say good-bye to former co-workers. He or she will only call these people on the phone later anyway. Should the employee lose control and become verbally abusive, ask them to vacate the building immediately. Do not get upset. It is important for your remaining employees that you handle the situation with respect for yourself and the employee being let go.
Of course, the process of firing an employee is never easy regardless of how well you plan or all of the precautions you take. But if you adhere to these guidelines, you may find that it can go better than expected.