One of the hardest moments in any small business owner’s career is the first time he or she needs to let their first employee go. While you may have worked hard to build a tight-knit team around you, sometimes you have to think about what is best for the business and that can mean making some tough decisions. Employees who show up late, goof off, or are unable to be trained are ultimately a liability to your success and you deserve to have a workforce as productive and professional as you are. But before you can start interviewing new hires you need to fire your current worker. But most people don’t know how to fire an employee. Here are a few simple tips.
A Familiar Face Should Do the Firing
There’s an old adage that responsibility rises up the company ladder, but when it comes to having to fire an employee that isn’t necessarily the case. The best person to do the deed would be the employee’s direct supervisor, someone with whom they have a working relationship but who also holds a position of authority over them. But do make sure the supervisor is prepared; while managing employees is the supervisor’s job, they may not have ever had to fire someone before.In most situations, experts agree, the direct supervisor should be the one to deliver the bad news. “In my experience the supervisor should be the one to deliver the news because they have the working relationship with the employee. It may also be helpful to have a 3rd party there to act as a witness in case things turn sour.
Be Clear With Your Reasons
The most common question the employee is likely to ask is “Why am I being fired?” While your gut reaction may be to spare their feelings by not getting into specifics, doing so will end up hurting them much more in the long-run than a little tough love. If they’re ever to improve, you need to be upfront about what they’ve done wrong as well as what steps you’d taken to try to help them. Make them feel like you’ve been on their side, and provide constructive advice on what they can do to improve in the future.
If this really was just a simple lay-off due to budget reasons, be sure to let them know that they aren’t at fault.
Keep It Short
If it doesn’t feel like there’s much to say, that’s because there isn’t. While it may seem like a large event in your mind, the actual meeting shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes. There’s a degree of shock associated with it, so it’s best to include paperwork/documents for the terminated employee as they may find it difficult to concentrate during the meeting. It also alleviates the need for them to contact you again.
Tie Up Loose Security Ends
One of the worst things you can do is fire an employee without getting keys, passwords, etc from them first. Before going into the meeting, make a list of every permission the employee had so you can keep track of what needs to be revoked. Depending on how clean a break it is, you may want to consider changing your shared passwords to prevent tampering by a disgruntled former employee.
Be Optimistic About the Future
While you should be direct about the past (why the employee is being let go), it’s important to focus on the future. Suggest next steps for them, like updating their resume, applying at other local businesses, or trying out a new industry. If you had a positive working relationship you can offer to serve as a reference or keep an ear open for new opportunities at other companies. Maintain a positive outlook that there are more opportunities for them out there and the blow will be lessened.
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