Firing an employee is one of the most unpleasant responsibilities of a manager. No matter what company you work for, odds are that as a manager you will eventually have to fire someone someday.
It helps therefore, to prepare for such an event in advance, so when the time comes, you are able to carry out this distressing duty.
Now, if the management at your company has decided fire an employee, then in all likelihood the legal ramifications and company policies have been taken into account.
It also follows that the employee has been given sufficient warning and ample time to make amends but unfortunately has failed to perform up to company standards.
The only thing left to do now, is to meet the employee and break the bad news.
If this unfortunate task has fallen to you then the following checklist will provide much needed guidance.
It will inform you of the essential points that can help you effectively maneuver the meeting.
STAGE I – Before the Meeting:
- Choosing the Time and Place
When terminating an employee, always choose a place that allows privacy and where the meeting will not be disturbed.
An ideal choice is the office of the employee. They will be more comfortable there and you can easily leave afterwards. If the employee does not have a private office then a neutral space such as a conference room is the second best option.
As far as possible, once the decision to terminate employment has been made, try to fire the employee as early in week and as early in the day as possible.
Doing it before the mid-day break is a good idea, as it will allow the employee to gather their personal belongings when the rest of the staff is on break.
- Preparing for the Meeting
Go over the employee’s personnel file to get familiar with their case and the reasons why they are being let go. It will prepare you for any questions that might be put to you in the meeting.
Prepare a checklist to take with you to the meeting. Write down all the essential points such as the precise reasons for termination or any other relevant points that bear mentioning.
Once you are sure you have prepared yourself for the meeting comes the stage of actual meeting.
Before you go into the meeting, instruct appropriate personnel to de-authorize the employee’s company email, phone lines or any other modes of access to the company communications network.
STAGE II – During the meeting
- Don’t Do it Alone
For legal and practical reasons, make sure you have someone from HR or another manager in the room during the meeting.
It also helps to maintain a gender balance when breaking the bad news so that if a female employee is being let go they should not feel uncomfortable.
- Get right to the point
Most people have an inkling when they are about to get fired, so at this stage there is no point in dancing around it with inane pleasantries.
Like ripping off a bandage, its best to get straight to the point and get it over with.
The best course of action is to calmly yet assertively inform them of the decision to terminate their employment. Choose words that are polite yet direct and leave no ambiguity about the finality of the decision.
- Do Not Engage In Arguments or Justifications
Once the employee has been informed, more often than not they will express dissatisfaction and demand justification. In such a scenario, calmly cite the reasons that have lead to their termination and inform them that they were given ample time to make amends but failed to deliver.
Do not criticize the employee’s performance or offer justifications for the company’s decision. Your job is to simply relay the information. Avoid getting caught in an argument and steer the conversation back whenever it strays off topic.
- Direct Further Details to HR department
Once they have accepted the decision their next questions will be regarding severance, pending salary and other such details.
If possible, refer them to the HR department for this; otherwise make sure you have 2 copies of all relevant details.
Briefly explain the salient points to them as you hand them their copy, which they can review at a later time.
Make sure to end the meeting on a positive note and wish them the best for future endeavors.
At this point extricate yourself from the meeting and allow the employee some time to gather and compose their thoughts.
STAGE III – After the Meeting
- Bar Unsupervised Access to the Workspace
It is not advisable to allow the employee unsupervised access to the workplace once they have been informed of their termination. Have someone from the support or security staff accompany them as they pack up their personal belongings.
Better yet, offer to have their things packed and dropped at their home if they prefer. Under no circumstances should the terminated employee be allowed proximity to confidential or sensitive company documents or information.
- Retrieve Any Company Property
Make sure that any company property, such as a phone, laptop or tablet etc. that was assigned to the employee is retrieved and is duly accounted for before the employee leaves.
If the employee uses a company car, offer to have them dropped at their home or hire a cab for them.
- Last Words
The entire process is painful and extremely distressing for all parties but especially so for the employee being fired. Be mindful of their turmoil and make all efforts to let them make a dignified exit.
Surveys indicate that the manner in which an employee is terminated is the chief factor in their decision to sue their former employer. So bear in mind that effectively managing such meetings can save you and your company a lot of hassles and aggravation at a later stage.