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The Delicate Process of Firing an Employee

8/7/18, 10:54 AM

No one wants to be fired. No one wants to experience that awkward conversation and the slow procession to gather belongings and say goodbye. And certainly, no wants to be the one doing the firing. If hiring and firing is in your job description, then you feel this pain and you know how delicate this situation can be. It is a hard discussion to have and the outcome can be less than civil. Here are some tips to creating a process that will help set the tone, ease the blow, and move you and your company forward.

Preparation is going to be your greatest ally.  Give yourself a solid hour before your meeting with the employee to go over all your paperwork and review your case. Being prepared will help you with communicating clearly and being confident in your approach.  Contact any managers, other HR representatives or security personnel who may need to attend the meeting as well.  

The Open

use an even tone when firing an employeeOpening the conversation may be the hardest part of the firing process.  Your words lay the groundwork for concise and clear communication about why the meeting has been called and what the employee can expect as the conversation continues. Start the conversation with an opener- "We are here to discuss your performance..." or "After much consideration, we have decided to let you go..." These phrases are straight forward, but not as insensitive as "You're fired" or "We are terminating you."

It's understandable that your empathy levels will vary as well. You may feel for an employee who has been going through a hard time personally and show them empathy in your tone and behavior- while you may show no empathy towards someone who has done something illegal or inappropriate. And while firing someone is "just business" it's also smart to check your emotions and tailor your conversation accordingly and carrying it throughout the conversation.  Use the opening as a way to convey your message accordingly.

The Reason

Of course, behind every firing there is a reason, a justification for the action of termination.  Come prepared with that reason. Feel confident in detailing your reasons to the employee. In most cases, the employee will be aware of any action or behavior that resulted in the firing, but in some cases, the employee may be unaware and have questions. Provide them with evidence and feedback, in hopes they take that information and apply it at their next place of employment.

Document the reasons as well, for your record and for the employee's. If there have been any other communications about the reason for firing- previous conversations, emails, formal written complaints, etc, refer to those documents when stating your case. If there is a pattern or history this provides even stronger grounds for dismissal and can shut down any rebuttal from the employee. 

The Exit

Offer assistance with packing their belongingsThis is where things can go one of a few ways. You will want to be prepared for all scenarios and have the right resources in place to assist you at the end of the conversation. Don't underestimate the power of saying "I'm sorry" or "thank you." Be sure to offer them assistance when packing their items. Have exit interview documents ready which should include:

  • Information about their final paycheck
  • Continued benefits through Cobra
  • Checklist of any assets the employee may need to return, like laptops, cell phones, and key cards

Depending on the reason of firing, you may need security present to escort the former employee off the property. This is usually in cases of fraud or stealing, to ensure the protection of the company and the other employees. You may also need security if an employee lashes out or becomes angry. Either way, you will want to document the exit and make any notes of words or actions to have an accurate record for your files.

Your company has hundred of functional business processes and firing is just one of them. While it can be an uncomfortable and undesirable situation, its likely that the firing is warranted and needed in order to move your company forward with the right people. Having a process can make it more comfortable for you and give you the confidence to carry out the task.

Sometimes you can avoid a firing altogether by examining your hiring process. Others times a bad hire happens. To improve your recruiting and hiring practices, track on-boarding, employee performance and off-boarding, check out ONEMINT's WorkforceONE. Schedule a live demonstration today.

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