Firing an employee is never easy, especially for the first time, and especially for smaller businesses, where undoubtedly your relationships are probably a lot more personal.
It can be tricky to know when enough is enough, and how to exactly execute such a task. Here are some pointers to hopefully help the whole process go a little smoother.
Get to know when it’s appropriate to fire an employee, and when it’s not. Fireable offenses, include illegal activities, theft, fraud, assault and lying are all certainly fireable, but be careful before you do, as you’ll need hard case evidence to back claims such as these up. Performance related culprits are also a reason for letting go; if the employee is constantly missing deadlines, or the work they are producing isn’t of a good quality. Before firing on a performance basis, ensure you have communicated how you are feeling about their poor conduct, and have given them an opportunity to correct this over a reasonable time, with subject specific goals. Interpersonal skills are important in the workplace, getting along with co-workers and understanding how to interact and treat others is fundamental to building successful working relationships, where ideas and teamwork can flourish. So, if these skills are not up to scratch, and interfering with business this can also prompt the ending of a contract.
Know the rules
No one wants to be involved in a lawsuit, which is why knowing the ins and outs of employment law will pay dividends – although, with that being said when things get messy sometimes they are unfortunately unavoidable and employment lawyers are needed. If you know the rules however, it can be a lot easier to avoid.
This follows on from the previous pointer, by swotting up and knowing if your judgement is sound you can avoid a wrongful termination lawsuit. This is the protection of employees so they cannot be fired for individual characteristics such as their gender, age, religion, weight, sickness, or cracking their knuckles – no matter how annoying you may find it.
When terminating an employee’s contract, it should always be done in a polite, respectful way. It should be considerate of them and should never come as a shock. Clarity and communication between both parties is key.
To protect yourself, ensure the firing is only done after a number of meetings and performance related reviews have been carried out. That way the employee should understand exactly where they are going wrong, and the consequences that have led to their dismissal. Keep records of these meetings, and reviews as proof of attempts at trying to repair the situation. This not only offers a clear physical representation of their poor conduct, but can act as the concluding step in the process. Understanding your strategy when executing the termination is key, knowing exact dates, follow up information, details of pay etc will all be useful to the employee, and is mindful of their current position.
Execution is everything. Although firing an employee is never going to be a walk in the park, there are ways of doing it that will result in a better experience for you both.
Prepare, know exactly what you want, and need to say to the employee beforehand. Whilst practicing seems a bit uncouth, do plan and anticipate what will occur within the meeting. Transparency is essential, showcasing the evidence you’ve pulled together over the various meetings and reviews, prepare to present all your feelings and make it totally clear why exactly that employee needs to leave, and the events that have led to their termination.
Be sensitive, understand that this is a traumatic time for them, and no matter what reason for their dismissal, they deserve to be treated with respect. There are several ways that this can be done, letting them leave promptly after the meeting has ended will reduce embarrassment, and any possible awkwardness or discomfort they may be feeling. Arrange for them to come and collect their belongings at a later date, or have them delivered to their home.
Listen to the employees worries, queries or any questions they may have, and do your best to answer them.
The number one thing you must do is remain calm at all times, you are effectively ending this person’s supply of income and a major part of their life. It is likely they will not react well, and potentially take this anger out on you, try your hardest to not let this affect you, and react in an unprofessional way. Unamicable conversations can result in messy departures. If you acted wrongly in a heated moment, things can be said that can’t be taken back, which could lead to legal proceedings. The last thing you want to be doing is being stuck with compensation claims from settlement agreement solicitors.
By following these simple steps, firing an employee needn’t be a daunting task. By understanding the rules, preparing and understanding your employees behaviour termination of a contract doesn’t need to be the end of the world.