The Right Way to Fire an Employee

(DGIwire) — Ask any manager what their top three most-dreaded job functions are, and odds are that firing employees will be on the list. No one enjoys telling someone that they don’t have a job any more. The good news is that there are definitive steps that if followed, will make the situation less painful for all parties involved.

Document, document and document some more. Termination is a process and even though there are times when a manager may want to immediately fire someone, acting impulsively isn’t in the manager’s best interest. This doesn’t include extreme cases such as embezzlement, threatening harm to someone, drug use or other illegal activities. For all other cases, make sure that all of the legal ducks are in a row before someone is terminated. The laws in place are there to protect employees and employers alike, so make sure that they are known and followed to a tee.

This might include a prior conversation with the employee about the reason for termination. If, for instance, someone is being terminated due to behavioral issues, have a prior documented discussion with them bringing the issues to light and create a corrective plan of action to remedy the situation. Give them the chance to improve or redirect themselves. If the issue is poor performance, initially meet with the employee to discuss the areas where they are lacking and set goals for improvement within a specific time period. This way, when the deadline is reached, no one is surprised when the termination takes place.

Don’t burn bridges. Today he or she is an employee but tomorrow they might be a potential client or employer. Show compassion and allow them to leave with their dignity as intact as possible. No one will feel good about being fired but treating someone with respect will work wonders toward making the situation more bearable.

Consult with HR before the move is made. That’s what they are there for. They know all the rules and are trained to walk with managers through any and all steps of the process. In most mid-size to large companies they require that a representative from HR be present during the termination. In the heat of the moment, words can be misconstrued or miscommunicated and HR will be able to redirect and document the conversation in a manner that protects all parties involved. If there is no official HR rep or facilitator, that function can always be outsourced.

As the Founder and CEO of Atrium Staffing, Rebecca Cenni has seen it all. “We actively participate in the termination process for all of our clients. For some, it’s a simple, ‘Are we handling this correctly?’ For others, it’s ‘We need this employee to be fired.’ For yet others, it’s somewhere in the middle and we might just need to be present during the discussion.”

Atrium is a New York City-based talent solutions firm, focused on providing contingent workforce solutions for mid-size and Fortune 500 companies in nearly every industry. Atrium’s expertise includes regional Temporary and Direct Hire Staffing, national Payrolling Services, national Independent Contractor Compliance and Intern Program Design. The company has extensive experience matching the right candidates for a range of positions within a variety of industries.

Rip the Band-Aid off. Once the decision to terminate has been made, don’t wait to follow through. If the situation has been given its proper due diligence, the likelihood that minds will change is slim to none. Procrastinating just allows the situation to fester and in some cases allows the employee to cause more harm.

“Without processes and proper support in place, things become exponentially more difficult to manage,” adds Cenni.  “When a manager knows all the T’s that need crossing and I’s that are missing dots, the termination procedure process is much less intimidating than it needs to be.”