You’ve decided it’s time to let the low performer on your team go. You’ve covered your bases in terms of documentation, and you’ve coordinated with HR. But now you have to have the dreaded conversation. What’s the best way to deliver the news? Who should be in the room with you? What do you say and not say? And how do you tell the rest of the team?
Obviously, there’s nothing fun about the firing process; whether you’re giving or getting the news. No one likes to fire people, it doesn’t matter how successful or high up they are, but having to let workers go comes with the territory of being an employer. So below are the 5 best ways you can fire your employee:
1. Don’t surprise them
If a worker is being fired for poor performance, it shouldn’t be a surprise.
Hold regular employee reviews to go over any areas that need improvement. They don’t need to be super formal, but it allows workers time to improve or refocus.
Some states have what’s called at-will employment, which means workers can be fired at any time for any legal reason, but that doesn’t make it a good business practice.
Legally you may be able to do that, but in many cases, firing an employee without having any reason especially if it is for performance with no feedback or no indication of doing something that is not a good way to operate a business.
If the termination is due to a business model change, try to give affected workers as much notice as possible.
2. Do it face to (familiar) face
Firing someone is always going to be uncomfortable. But it needs to happen in person. Not over the phone, via email or blasted out on Twitter.
We pick up a lot more information when someone is in front of us, You can see body language, feel the energy in the room and react better. It’s a sign of courtesy to let someone go face to face.
It’s actually best to have the direct manager be the one delivering the news. If management is having a talk with you, that is a level of intimacy, respect, and personal care.
Have another person in the room, preferably from human resources, that can serve both as a witness or help with any unusual reactions or questions.
3. Be clear and concise
Now’s not the time to wing it. What you say and how you break the news is important when letting an employee go.
Make sure you know exactly why you’re firing a worker, have specific examples, and bring the proper documentation. That includes copies of performance reports, any write-ups and applicable financial forms like unemployment insurance, health insurance and 401(k) options.
Be firm and clear in the delivery of the termination and the path forward. There is no room or need to get into a protracted discussion, It is what it is, there is no productive discussion that can take place after.
4. Be prepared for emotion, but keep yours in check
Some workers take the news in stride. Others might go through a range of emotions: shock, grief and sometimes anger.
Show empathy, but be careful about any physical contact.
Be polite enough not to use any harsh words or mean emotions during the termination. You may be upset that they didn’t perform at the point you hoped, but it doesn’t do you any good to elaborate any further. Just say, we made this decision and we wish you well on your way.
5. Thank the employee for their services and wish them luck.
Your last step during a firing is to thank the person for their services. Don’t apologize, but say you wish things had worked out differently and extend best wishes for the future.
One last tip: Avoid Friday terminations. Monday is widely preferred because the employee can start making contacts more easily during the week.