Firing an Employee: The Right Approach

Firing an Employee: The Right ApproachFiring an employee is something that most managers dread.  Just the action and process itself is difficult, given that you probably had high hopes when you hired the employee.  However, having an underperforming or unhappy employee can be detrimental to your team.  As soon as you begin noticing the warning signs, you need to take immediate action.

Review your company’s policies

First, before doing anything, you should reference your company’s policies.  Most companies will have a process documented that will need to be followed before letting any employee go.  This is to ensure that the employee has been given a chance to correct any problems or behavior, and that the company has done everything legally required.

If in doubt or unsure of your company’s policies, it is best to speak with the person responsible for your company’s Human Resources.  It is better to ask questions rather than making assumptions when it comes to something as serious as this.

Identify the issue

Business Insider references several ways you can determine if it’s time to take the first step according to your company’s policy.  Perhaps you noticed that the employee has been constantly showing up late to work or is unable to complete work accurately on his own or in a timely manner.  Make sure that whatever it is that has gotten you to this point is not something petty, but that it is something which is affecting the employee’s performance or overall team production.

Address the issue with the employee

Once you have identified the problem, you need to communicate your concerns with the employee.  This can be a touchy issue, so you will want to make sure that you are following your company’s HR policy.

Typically, you may start out with a verbal discussion with the employee, finding out what is causing the issue.  A lot of times, this conversation is when you will find out if there are any underlying problems such as issues at home or health concerns, etc.  Sometimes, the employee may even be aware of the issue and just talking about it may resolve the problem.  Even though this is a verbal discussion between you and the employee, make sure you document notes afterwards.

However, if this verbal discussion does not lead to improvement, usually it is time for written counseling.  Your company more than likely has a form and process for written counseling.  The purpose of this form is to address the problem with the employee, while providing a written plan and goals for improvement by a certain date.  It’s best if the employee has input in this plan, as it gives them buy-in and shows them that they have control over their success.  Make sure you and the employee have scheduled follow up meetings to assess the employee’s performance according to the plan.  It is important for both you and the employee to sign and date the written form, and for you to both have copies.

When it’s time to let the employee go

As Fox Business states, “firings shouldn’t come as a surprise.”  The purpose of counseling the employee and meeting with the employee several times prior, gives the employee the opportunity to improve.  If each conversation is the same and there is no improvement from the employee, it should not be a shock to the employee once the time comes to let him go.

Fox Business points out that you should treat your employees the way you want to be treated.  This is applicable each and every day, but also when counseling and firing employees.  When you fire an employee, it is best to do so in person, one on one.  Letting someone go over the phone, via email, or with others present is not recommended.  Remember to always remain professional, even if the employee becomes angry or upset.

What are some of the processes you follow when counseling or firing employees?  Please share your experiences in the comments below.

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