How to Fire an Employee

One of the toughest things that an employer has to do is to fire an employee. More often than not, it’s harder for the person giving the bad news than the one receiving it. But it needs to be done, to remove the “bad apple” in the company. Here are some tips to consider when having to face the termination of an employee, while not shaming and bruising the person’s ego:

Check past feedback. Look back at the company’s past relationship with the employee and check if overly positive signals were present. If such optimistic signs exist, don’t fire him right there and then! Rather, start changing these signals into the opposite and let him know his uncertainness in the work force.

Give warning. Firings based on performance should come with a warning or probationary period of a suggested 30 days. An explanation should be given regarding the employee’s performance, and a memo for this should be created, documenting every action. A warning is the least he deserves, especially if he’s spent years of service in the company. This could also serves as an opportunity to turn things around, especially if the employee is caught on a bubble.

Timing is everything. Never fire somebody on a Friday, or the day before a weekend or holiday. One would have the tendency to fuss about it over the weekend, and return the following Monday all charged up and ready for a fight! Fire somebody early in the week, and if more advisable, early in the day.

Have an HR accompaniment. The presence of a representative from the human resources department adds to the level of seriousness and makes the termination speech official and final. It also helps that an HR expert is right where you need him, especially when the employee has specific questions that need to be addressed. Privacy should also be ensured such that the employee knows that nobody else in the workplace would be in on what’s happening in the termination meeting.

Be straight to the point. Say what you have to say, do what you have to do. Don’t say anything more, and don’t say less. Don’t prolong the meeting, make it short and straightforward. This would prevent the employee from pondering negotiations about ways to get out of the situation. Tell him why he’s being terminated and when he’s expected to leave. Choose your words carefully and mind your tone. Also, try to express some sympathy and act sincerely. But don’t get too caught up with the employee’s emotions!

Submit to employee’s claim for unemployment benefits. This is the way to any acceptable termination. If not, be ready to face court charges and regardless of what’s said during court hearing, the ex-employee would most likely be rewarded with benefits.

Reassign the work duties of the terminated employee right away. The remaining work force should know that this employee is no longer working for the company, and his previous duties would be delegated accordingly. Try not to give details about the ex-employee’s termination to possibly prevent a rumor mill from running around the company.

Give a proper send-off. Be prepared with words of encouragement and express confidence in the employee’s future career. Show some gratitude for his years of service in the company. Don’t be too surprised if he also feels thankful for leaving! Don’t forget to extend a hand and give him a heartfelt handshake.

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