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Does Anna Kendrick know how to properly fire someone?


In the movie, “Up in the Air,” Anna Kendrick shows what can happen when a manager isn’t fully prepared for the firing process.


You’ve had conversations with your employee, given them a fair trial period, and they are still not performing as needed. If you feel you’ve done all you can, it’s probably time to let them go. You might want to just get it over with, but it's important not to rush in, without serious preparation.


As a manager you have a LOT of things to handle before you proceed with the actual firing. Here’s a list of issues to consider before sitting down with your employee.


1. Speak with HR about their notice period and benefits. It’s unacceptable to fire someone and not be able to tell them what their notice period is, what their benefits will be etc. It’s reeks of unprofessionalism. Make sure your HR rep will be available on the day in case your employee has further questions.


2. Company property that might be in their possession. If they have a company laptop, do they keep it until the end of their notice period or do you require it back immediately? Do you rescind their network access straight away? What about access to their email? Most companies will have policies on file about these issues so be sure to know them in advance. Also, if the policies are uniform for all employees, as they should be, it makes the situation less confrontational. “We’re not rescinding your email access because we don’t trust you, it’s just the company policy”.


3. My preference is that when an employee is let go, they stop coming to work, even if there is some sort of notice period. It’s usually not a good idea to have someone who was let go hang around the office. So, you better have a solid plan for who will handle their workload starting immediately.


4. Make sure you have specific details about their work and why it wasn’t up to par. Keep in mind though that this isn’t a negotiation and you can’t appear to be wishy washy. You never know how an employee will react to being fired. Some will storm out, others will grovel, and some will fight and say they weren’t given a fair shot. Be on top of the facts and be able to present them a clear and concise picture of why they are being let go.


5. Keep the circle of people “In the know” as limited as possible beforehand. Unfortunately, it’s best to assume that most people will gossip so unless someone absolutely needs to know before your employee, don’t tell them.


6. And most important of all, practice your speech! You want to sound assertive, firm, appreciative of the work they have done, and compassionate. “I know you’ve put in a lot of effort to make this work, but the performance gap is simply too big right now, so I have decided to let you go.” If it’s your first or second time firing someone, it’s a good idea to do a dry run with an HR rep or a more experienced manager.


No matter how long or short, how fruitful or unfruitful, this person’s stay was with your company, how they are treated during the firing process is what they will most likely remember when they walk out the door. It is small minded to think one person can’t have a tremendous impact on your company for good or for bad. I will elaborate on this topic in a future post but for now remember that the more prepared you are as a manager the smoother this firing will go. Don’t make the same mistake Anna Kendrick made and think you can do it right on your very first try!


Come to the “Leadership by movie” workshop on February 20th! Buy your ticket now!

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