The end of the line: The series finale on firing employees...
When I started this series on how to fire employees, I couldn't have imagined it would take more than 8 posts just to start scratching the surface! I also didn’t realize how many people have horror stories regarding their own dismissals. (See below)
Firing an employee is never a pleasant experience, however, if done correctly with planning and foresight it can be conducted with dignity and compassion. Here’s a short summary of everything I’ve written about in the last few weeks.
1. Make sure your mind is ready and made up when you start the process. Firing someone is a serious issue and it needs to be your decision as their manager. Don’t be pressured or hurried into it by anybody.
2. Start with an informal talk. Perhaps your employee is experiencing some issues which are affecting their performance. It's always wise to give them the benefit of the doubt and the courtesy to explain their performance before you initiate any formal proceedings.
3. Don’t hesitate in carrying out the firing should it be warranted. Showing indecisiveness as a manager is never a good thing.
4. Give them a formal and fair trial period. People will often surprise you and it’s for the benefit of everyone in the team, not just them.
5. Be prepared for the firing. Know the details of their terms and the specifics about why they are being let go.
6. Plan the conversation to the best of your ability to enable a professional, smooth and compassionate talk. The most important thing of all is that this person walks out of the office with their dignity.
7. Be proactive regarding the messaging to the team after someone’s been let go. It can be a learning experience for everyone and help solidify your leadership as someone who isn’t afraid to make difficult decisions.
We hope to never have to fire anyone, but inevitably, it does happen. Best you can do is hope this person will look back in appreciation of how seriously and professionally you handled the matter. Remember, it’s not just the person being let go who is watching, it’s everyone who is left behind too.
Here’s a few small anecdotes I received from people about their own dismissals. Read and weep!
“Tomer”, a developer at a mobile games company: I was actually fired on my birthday. It’s not like nobody knew about it since we were only 17 people in the company and everyone knew I had a birthday coming up. Nonetheless, on the morning of my birthday, my manager told me they were firing me! And I had even brought in a cake!
“Ortal”, marketing analyst at a casino company: I knew my job was in jeopardy because I just couldn't keep up with the work. I had a major report due which I had been working on for a few weeks. My manager fired me and before we even finished talking about it, he asked me to be sure to send him the draft of the report, before I left the building. I was horrified!
“Keren” Receptionist at a high-tech company: I wasn’t fired, but, I knew someone who was going to be! His manager had a big temper and an even bigger mouth. After an unusually large screw up he proclaimed in front of me, “I’ve had it, he’s gone tomorrow”. I was professional enough to not say anything but I absolutely could not look him in the eye when he walked in the door that morning.