How do I fire someone?
Every rung you scramble up the corporate ladder puts more people below you. And unless youre very lucky, some of them will be incompetent, incompatible or even inebriated. Which is when it falls on you to break the news that their relationship with your organisation is due for some conscious uncoupling. Sadly, unless you own Amstrad, getting them out the door demands more than just a pointed finger and dismissive catchphrase. Follow these tips to make sure youre not following them out after an employment tribunal.
Proceed with caution
Even if an underling wont stop whistlingBlurred Lines, you cant just pass them a cardboard box and tell them to hand in their keycard, says Rebecca Hewett, lecturer in human resources at the University of Greenwich. The number one rule is to follow your organisations procedure. However egregious the sin, head to HR first if you want to avoid the risk of either reemploying them or a big compensation payout. Which could result in you being called in for a little chat of your own.
Whether its calling employees out on shoddy performance or taking the decision to dismiss them, timeliness is key. If you avoid having quite a simple conversation now, it becomes a cataclysmic conversation three months down the line, says Ian Gooden, CEO of HR consultancy Chiumento. Make it clear what your standards are and when theyre not being hit. Underperforming staff will either buck up or ship out on their own, saving you pulling the trigger at all.
If possible, draft in HR to lead the meeting. They can help to make sure you use the right wording, says Hewett. If you sugar the pill by using phrases like Have to let you go, then you introduce ambiguity. Better is to say things like, The decision is therefore to dismiss you. Its clearer. Make sure anything you say is followed up in writing to save a second awkward conversation when theyre still at their desk a week later.
Keep your cool
Even if youre firing the guy who made a move on your wife at the Christmas party, smilings a rookie move. Keep it factual, keep it accurate and never let emotion overtake logic, says Gooden. If they start screaming take a deep breath and hold for five seconds to lower your stress response, then suggest a tea break. It gives them time to digest whats happened. Be prepared to duck if they try to use the mug as a missile.
The buck stops here
Whether you were part of the termination decision or not, blaming upper management wont absolve you in the eyes of the guy taking his possessions home in a box. Its also totally inappropriate, says Gooden. In that situation, your job is to represent your employer. Reassurances can be equally misguided, especially if you put yourself in their position. The situations about them, not you. It happened to me but I got over it, isnt any consolation. Be professional and limit discussion of their future to severance and departure dates.
Watching a desk being cleaned out isnt great for morale, so if possible have the ex-employee do it after hours. If theyre friendly with colleagues then steer off any pub bad-mouthing by preparing a statement with HR. If the team is aware of whats happened sometimes its better to be more honest, says Hewett. But if they dont know then agree clear wording to let people know theyve left immediately. You dont need to be exhaustive, but its worth speaking with any particularly close colleagues one-to-one to offer support. Or they may feel theyre next in line.
Video: How to Fire Someone
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