By: Jamie Costello
As a senior member of staff, it’s likely you’ve had to fire someone during your career. For both involved, it’s an extremely uncomfortable position but when employees aren’t performing you need to be able to act efficiently.
Firing them in an appropriate way helps to keep everything steady so knowing how to fire gracefully is something you should consider greatly.
Why it’s Important to Fire Appropriately
Every employer will tell you that the last thing they wish to do is fire an employee. It’s difficult and doesn’t reflect greatly on the brand of the business. However, in situations where the employee has committed an unforgiving offense or they simply perform consistently poorly, you need to be able to take them through the firing process appropriately.
You’d be surprised by just how many managers admit to not knowing a pertinent way to go about firing someone. Following these steps will ensure that the process is less of a struggle and you’ll be able to fire employees gracefully moving forward, although you’d hope you won’t have to do it too often.
Provide Clarity To The Employee
One of the biggest mistakes you can make as an employer when it comes to dismissing an employee is dwelling on the situation and being unclear about your intentions. Being gentle towards the situation will only send out mixed messages and potentially make the employee misinterpret what the purpose of the meeting is, which will only make things harder. The best thing you can do is outline what you’re going to say and be blunt from the start of the conversation to save beating around the bush. Then you can start to explain your reasons why and answer any questions they have after it.
Don’t Make The Employee Feel Humiliated
Firing an employee in sight of every member of staff on the floor is never a professional way to begin proceedings. Treat your employees with dignity and do the process behind closed doors.
Exposing the firing to fellow employees can potentially drain the morale of the rest of the team, especially if the employee you’re firing has close relationships with their colleagues. Even better, consider firing the employee when there’s no one else around so they can save face and avoid having to be escorted out of the building in front of their workmates.
Ensure a Witness is Present
For legal purposes, you should have a witness present during the firing so that they can justify that you acted appropriately and in the correct manner. Accusations can be made after the firing by employees who feel they have been wrongfully dismissed or out of spite of being fired. In some cases, you might even have a police escort and Manchester solicitors present if you feel as though the employee will retaliate in some way.
Avoid Surprising Your Employee
When it comes to firing an employee due to a serious accusation, you’re more than likely to have no choice but to fire an employee after the accusation has been made or shortly after an incident has been witnessed. However, firing due to poor performance should be dealt with differently.
Performance reviews are normally provided at least twice a year, giving your employee an indication of whether they’re performing well or not. They’re more than likely to be aware that not performing well can lead to dismissal as they’re essentially not fulfilling their job role. Performance reviews allow you to give feedback on their performance and give them an opportunity to show improvement. Firing due to poor performance should only be considered as a last resort.
If it does come down to needing to fire them, ensure that all their performance details and progress are documented. This way, it shows that both you and the employee have discussed performance and there isn’t a surprise element to it. It’s also proof you can refer to if legal proceedings were to take place. Lack of improvement over a long period would give you no reason but to fire them, so don’t linger and use up further resources on them.
Inform Your Employees
In some cases, it would be necessary to let fellow employees aware that you’ve had to let someone go. For example, if the colleague was heavily involved in a project, then the colleagues in the team would need to be aware of this so workload can be prioritised. Additionally, depending on the position of the employee that was dismissed, it may require you to re-shuffle a few people about or even provide further opportunities for the current staff. However, it’s important that you keep what’s to be known about the situation brief so that employees don’t get distracted by gossip. Remain professional throughout the whole firing process and this even includes the time after the employee has been dismissed.
Jamie Costello is an aspiring freelance business/legal writer who’s continuing to build his writing portfolio. He has a degree in Business Communication and his writing experiences have also allowed him to work alongside a range of businesses to expand his knowledge in the sector.