How To Fire An Employee

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“You’re fired!”  Those words became a joke when they were shouted on a popular reality TV show.  The reality is, however, that when you fire an employee, it has enormous impact.  Firing someone cannot be taken lightly.  Not only does it have a financial and emotional impact on the employee and their family, it also impacts your business.  Turnover is costly.  It costs the company a great deal in both money and time to replace an employee.  It is much more cost effective if you are able to coach the employee through progressive discipline, setting up a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) outlining the expectations and timelines, and getting them to meet expectations.  But sometimes that doesn’t work.  Despite your best efforts, you may have to let the employee go.

Before you fire an employee, look at what you have done to help them.  Have you created an atmosphere of success by giving them the tools, training and support they needed to meet your expectations?  Did you put them through the progressive discipline model?  Did you create a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) for them?  Did you meet with them regularly to ensure their questions and barriers were addressed?  Did you conduct quick check-in meetings with them, stopping by their desk and asking them how it is going?  If you did not do these things, then you could be terminating an employee without giving them a chance to correct their behavior and succeed.

If you have given them the opportunity to turn things around, but their behavior has not changed, then termination is your last option.  Before terminating an employee, you should gather all the documentation you have and review it to ensure you gave the employee clear expectations, reasonable timelines and provided all the tools and training the employee needed to get the job done.  Once you have confirmed you did everything you could, set up a time for the termination meeting.  Each state has different requirements for the employee’s final check, so make sure you are familiar with and follow these laws.  Choose a safe place for the meeting and have a witness in the room with you to take notes.  If you are concerned about the employee’s reaction, have security available to help if the employee should become violent.  If your business does not have security, call your local police department and inform them of the situation.  Many police departments will be available to help you in these situations. Sit closest to the door so you can easily remove yourself from the room should the employee threaten you.  Your safety and the safety of your employees and customers should always be in the forefront of your mind.  Your message during the meeting should be short.  Briefly outline past meetings and written warnings.  Explain that despite all of these meetings, the employee has not met the expectations that have been outlined and as a result you are terminating their employment.  The termination meeting is not a time for debate.  Unless the employee gives you compelling information you did not know before, the decision to terminate has been made and is final.  Our blog next week will outline what happens after you have told your employee they are fired.  Stay tuned…