If you are scouring the web looking for the best way on how to let an employee go, we have some cold hard truth for you: firing someone sucks. It sucks for you, and it’s likely even worse for them. However, if it’s your first time bringing down the ax, we’ve put together some pointers that will hopefully ease the pain of firing someone.
12 Tips on How to Let an Employee Go
Try to do it early. Many organizations will fire people at the end of the day to get them off the property with as little hubbub possible. But when you are the person who has to do the firing, that means an entire day of obsessing over the dreaded task. Nothing fuels an anxiety fire like anticipation, so do what you can to get the deed done early in the day.
Don’t throw up or pass out. I know it sounds silly, but you can’t underestimate how difficult it is making a decision for somebody that can impact their entire life. Of course, you need to remind yourself that they most likely made the decision for themselves by failing to perform. However, watch what you eat. Keep it light but be sure you are satisfied. By regulating your blood sugar, you will be able to stay on point for the message you need to deliver.
Don’t make it about you. I’m not proud to admit it, but recently, I’ve discovered how easy it is to make situations seemingly more palatable by inserting yourself into the conversation. This can often come across as self-serving and trite. After all, you still have your job and they don’t. Wondering how to let an employee go? The best way to fire someone is to keep the focus on them.
Try your best not to be emotional. You don’t want to seem heartless, but emotionality can be contagious. You will need to fend off whatever the soon-to-be former employee is feeling as well as your emotions. Coming across as a blubbering fool is silly since you had a hand in the action. If you are wondering how to fire someone nicely, it is to be succinct and professional throughout the firing process.
Partner with your HR staff. They’ve been there, done that. Something that is a rarity for you is something they are trained to do regularly. Be sure to have them along for the ride, including during the actual firing. A third-party perspective is useful and it also helps in case there are any legal implications down the road.
Don’t tip off co-workers. Joabcle has talked many times about the importance of avoiding workplace gossip. I was surprised at how difficult it is to keep a firing to yourself. Even tipping off your office confidante can backfire as people can pick up on cues and signals. A firing has a ripple effect that transcends people and departments. Keep the dirty little secret to yourself.
Have your post-firing game plan ready. You’ll need to address your staff and the people that the person interfaced with. Prepare your talking points in advance and stay consistent when delivering the messaging. Don’t tell tales out of school. Keep the reasons short and curt. Remember, those workplace departures can be upsetting for everyone. Firing someone can put people on the high alert. When you think about how to let an employee go, be sure you’re taking the “post-game” into consideration.
Give yourself a report card after you’re done. Grade for things like humanity and staying on message. Track your own emotions and write them in a “work journal.” Our memories can sometimes be short. This will serve as a reference as you will likely have to fire people again in the future.
Don’t overthink how others will perceive you after carrying out the dirty deed. The reality is you will likely never really know what employees think about how you went about firing someone, and it probably doesn’t matter. Bosses don’t get awards. And if they do, they are usually rooted in bullshit.
Be succinct. If you have done your job correctly, the individual will not be surprised wen they are summoned for the ax drop. Talking about the weather or any other inconsequential topics can feel unauthentic and even offensive. Get to it.
Keep people in check. If anyone decides to call you a “hatchetman” or uses any other terms with a negative connotation surrounding the firing, remind them that it can easily be you or them, and the duty is nothing that fills you with pride.
Let the person speak their mind. The person getting let go undoubtedly has a lot running through their mind. To give them the closure they may need, let them speak their mind, albeit it in a controlled, time managed way. Do not allow yourself to be subjected to abuse.
Above all, as long as you gave this person every opportunity to succeed, remind yourself that people make their situations. You, ultimately, have nothing to feel terrible about.
You can read this and other posts on the subject on how to fire someone nicely. In the end, the best way to handle to difficult task is to do it in your style in your own way.