Firing someone isn’t as easy as some reality shows might depict. Sure, it’s fun to think about being a strong executive able to dismiss someone on a whim.
In reality? Your showing someone the door has real world consequences that those with empathy know all too well. I’m assuming your employee has a problem OTHER than a terminally ill relative, or they were the one with a terminal illness, a serious loss in the family be it a person, pet, or home, or a severe injury meeting all of the above criteria. I would add, as a former military spouse (he retired from the Army Reserves and is great, thanks!) that losing a loved one to deployment could affect your staff member’s work ethic as well.
All of the above may not be legally protected by Labor Laws, and that doesn’t really matter until step four. I’ll assume you don’t want to be a Worst Boss of the Year by firing your employee after their father dies of cancer on the same day as their dog was run over on their way back from saying goodbye to their deploying spouse.
How does someone let a problematic employee leave for “greener pastures?” Here you go.
- If empathy and caring about your employees are problems for you, don’t worry. There is a real and legal reason for NOT skipping step one’s empathy and emotional quagmire. Start a paper trail now, because if the person really is a liability to the company, a paper trail will keep you from being sued for unemployment. You’ll want to sit the problem person down and have a talk with them about what’s going right and what’s going wrong. Emphasis on the wrong. Have a checklist, a signable checklist, for how the awry behavior will change in the immediate future. They sign, you give them an atta girl or atta boy, and the behavior is corrected, profits rise, and we’re all happy.
- But, if nothing changes? You will yet again sit them down in a private area and ask what was unclear about the first meeting, in a kind and direct way. They explain or excuse, you listen and reintroduce the checklist as a reminder.
- And then that didn’t work. Fine. Bring them in again, again ask what was unclear and is it clear now that they’re on a probation of sorts? They’ll probably mumble yes, promise to change, you shake hands and voila! Problem solved.
- When nothing has worked so far? You gave the person three chances/warnings and documented what was said and promised. I would say you bring them in and give them two weeks. Except, I was in Information Technology for most of my cube farm life and forewarned gives an angry employee a chance to set up retaliation. Instead, follow your company’s procedures for termination. If you are your own CEO of a large enough company for Human Resources, why are you reading this? You’re too busy, and it’s why you have an HR. If you’re like me, the CEO of a tiny empire, the legality of terminating is a problem. Especially when it comes to being sued. Review the termination for cause for your state because no two states are the same. Set up your legal defense and reasons for showing your employee the door.
- The firing itself. By this time, what kind of person your employee is won’t matter. They’re a detriment to the company and must go. Which is fine. Some people are round pegs trying to fit into a square hole and need to be pushed to find a new place. Others are problem children with no desire to grow as a person. Either way, you’ve tried to warn them in steps one through three, done the legal homework in step four, and now have to meet with them privately. If necessary, have your boss or HR rep sit in. Again, if you’re the head of your company, have a plan for your safety when terminating a hot headed employee.
I’ll admit, I’m a small business owner and firing someone would mean they all but begged to be fired. My empathy is off the charts. For this post, I’ve kept in mind that larger business owners might not know everyone and even if they do, they don’t care what happens when a person is pink slipped. Everyone is different, and that’s fine.
Even if you don’t care about your terminated people, you’ve spent time and money training them. There are anti-discrimination laws. Hiring new replacements hits you again in the time and money department. No one wants to waste their resources or be sued. Follow the first three steps, set up by following the fourth, and help your company’s growth and profits by following through on the fifth step.