Humane Ways To Fire An Employee

Ever fired someone? It’s the most awful feeling in the world.

Of course, it’s not a senseless act and there’s always a reason behind every firing. Sometimes, the inevitable just happens: the company has incurred severe financial losses, or decided to change its business model.

Maybe the employee is a pain in the ass; or maybe the company has found a better candidate than him.

Either way it’s a very hairy situation for any manager.

There’s no easy way really to deliver the bad news, knowing that it has a great impact on someone’s life. Click To Tweet

There’s no easy way really to deliver the bad news, knowing that it has a great impact on someone’s life. Friendships will be tested; and the “firing” will definitely drag down morale.

Here are some tips on how to let go different kinds of employees:

The performer

There are circumstances in which you may be forced to part ways with your star performer, say Jack, who’s head of Accounts and who’s suave and charming as heck. Company revenues are, however, down, hence the massive lay-offs.

Unfortunately, everyone happens to love Jack, too. He’s super generous, and always finds time to lend everyone a helping hand.

His looks also doesn’t help. (via GIPHY)

Whatever the case may be, you simply have to sit this person down and get on with it. According to Entrepreneur, firing someone will always be hard, but you won’t achieve anything by being wishy-washy about it.

Just keep the talk short, the website advises. Acknowledge the person’s contribution to the company.

Employees who are sensible and observant enough would respect your decision and carry on with their lives. Who knows? Maybe Jack has a million dollars stashed somewhere.

Entrepreneur advises bosses to become mindful of their employees’ performance. They should give credit where it is due, as morale will be quite low at this point.

The underperformer

Erika Anderson, a human resource and management consultant, writes in her column on Forbes that anyone who’s consistently letting you do his or her job and “take up 40 percent of your mental bandwidth” is not worth keeping on your team.

It is also best to seek the assistance of a third-party to conduct the firing and assess the outcome.

In an interview with Inc., Les McKeown, president and CEO of Predictable Success, says it’s best that a third party is tapped to avoid bias. Doing so will also allow you to objectively assess the underperformer’s work following the final warning.

McKeown also suggests “making the separation swift but generous.”

“There’s nothing to be gained by having a disgruntled big dog hanging around, but you owe it to the person to generously recognize his or her past contributions,” he tells Inc.

The guy who you’re just not down with

There’s always a guy in the workplace who just rubs you off the wrong way. He seems to be a likable guy for most people, but there’s just something about him that you can’t put your finger on.

But unless he’s done something grossly against company policies, you simply can’t fire this person on whim.

Do not take how he is personally. If he isn’t affecting employee morale, and is doing good professionally, just brush it off.

As a manager, it is your job to reach out to the person. Perhaps spending time with the person will give you insight on his attitude. You have to maximize your employees’ strengths and unearth their hidden potential.

As a manager, it is your job to reach out to the person. Perhaps that will give you insight on his attitude as well. Click To Tweet

That is not to say though that you’re wrong about your misgivings about this person. It happened to me once.

I had a coworker who did nothing but copy-paste my work. When I raised it to my manager at the time, he told me that it was okay.

He said that it didn’t matter who was copying what and from whom since we worked as a team. We were essentially prostitutes, he said, since we work in PR.

When said manager was fired and I replaced him, I noticed even stranger things about my copy-pasting coworker.

I barely chanced upon her online on Skype (we work remotely), and the copy-pasting became worse. I used to joke about her and my former manager being the same person, since they seemed to know each other well.

After some snooping around, my boss and I did uncovered the truth: she was a “him,” and was actually my former manager. Ha! I was right all along!

(via GIPHY)

Trust your instincts. If the day comes when you need to fire said colleague, the below tips may also help.

General Tips When You Have To Fire An Employee

The problem that most managers face is fear of being lashed out on by colleagues who didn’t make the cut or screwing up the dreaded “talk.”

As a manager, what is the right way to go about firing a colleague? Below are some suggestions to soften the blow:

Keep it short.

When firing someone, experts agree that the best way is to be straightforward.

“Offering anything resembling condolences can backfire, and because of concerns about lawsuits, being cold and clear seems to be the way to go,” explains a Time article in reference to a leaked Yahoo! Guide for managers during its massive layoffs.

The guide, which appears on website Gawker, offers a checklist for managers on what to do, emphasizing on minimizing small talk and keeping to a 15-minute “firing” session.

Jack Dorsey, Twitter co-founder and CEO, went for a brief email announcement about his decision to fire over 300 employees after his reinstatement as boss of all. Although still “riddled with corporate speak”, his speech does the job.

Give them ample time to transition.

Unless your colleague is a complete asshole, the best consideration that you can extend t him is a 30-day or 60-day notice.

This is only fair, since it gives your colleague enough time to absorb the news, and make the necessary adjustments in their personal life (more importantly, to find a new job).

Most labor codes have strict measures about firing workers (check the one that covers your jurisdiction).

Most labor codes have strict measures about firing workers (check the one that covers your jurisdiction).Click To Tweet

If the company you work for has entered a contract with your colleague, then clearly state that the contract has been terminated for a certain—and hopefully valid and legal—reason.

While your company may not be covered by such laws, especially if you all work for a freelance basis or remotely, remember that it is a matter of ethics and morals. Do the right thing.  

Give the person space.

Try to be sensitive to your co-workers’ feelings. While you may be itching to talk to them about how they feel or how you can be of help to them, remember that they just lost their job and may need time to process what happened to them.

If they are mad at you, speak calmly and don’t try to force your beliefs on them as they are most likely not in the right frame of mind to think.

Remember, they were the ones fired; you still have a job. It’s the cruel truth, so be sensitive about it.

Offer help, but don’t go overboard.

Strike a balance between offering your coworker comfort and maintaining your distance during the aftermath. As mentioned above, giving too much of an unsolicited advice may backfire and could get your trapped in an uncomfortable conversation with said coworker.

If you are extending help in the form of career placement, you can direct them to the career services department (if you have one), or send along links to them to job postings.

You can only do so much for a valuable colleague, whether he or she is a friend or a top performer on your team. Whatever happens, don’t beat yourself up about firing your coworker. 

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Sandy Miguel is an independent website publisher, journalist and photographer from the Philippines. She used to be the managing director of an advertising technology provider where she managed around 50 online contractors at one time. Sandy writes about managing work-related stress, exploring one's options outside the four corners of an office, and work-life balance for Get Over Your Job.

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