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How to Fire Someone Nicely

by Staff | October 22, 2018

Business Management How-To Communication Skills

In business, there will come a point where an employee you’ve hired isn’t working out, or has been regrettably hired by mistake, and that person is draining you either in profit, energy, or morale. At a time like this, you need to know how to let them go.

Let’s face it, nobody likes getting fired or to be the one doing the firing, but for the sake of the business, you know that it is a necessary evil, and a difficult one to manage too. Firing people can turn hostile if you don’t know how to do it properly.

So, you’ll want to know how to craftily step over the landmines when it comes to firing someone without creating any hostility. With that said, let’s guide you through the termination process.

PHASE 1: Preemptive Strike – Planning the Reasons

Never abruptly fire someone on the spot without a probable reason, especially when they least expect it coming off like an ambush. That is a surefire way of inciting lingering hostility. So before anything else, compile your notes on why that person should be fired. This will act as your list of reasons to be cited as to why someone will no longer be moving forward with the business. You should have paperwork that dictates what someone has done wrong, infractions, absences, and more.

If you don’t complete this homework phase, then you will be pushed to the wall with their tough pressing questions needing to be answered during the termination process. You certainly don’t want that.

PHASE 2: Mission Launch – Braving the Storm

Now the hard part begins. You will feel like the bad guy here, but keep in mind that you are not a bad person and that it’s only business. The sooner you get it out of the way, the easier it will be for everybody.

Pick a Friday to undertake the unpleasantry of firing someone. Half an hour before the end of the day, you should ask the person to come into your office, or a neutral place for a solo meeting. When the two of you meet up, tell them why the business will be needing to let them go. Don’t make a scene and calmly have the paperwork regarding the terms of their employment, firing, and forward. Tell them it’s not your sole discretion to let them go, but rather a unanimous one from higher-up or from the entire crew, that way they are not mad at you for doing your job. If they have questions, respectfully answer them.

Alternatively, you could set up the whole process prior to maybe lessen the sudden shock. The day before that person is to come in for work, contact them to let them know that they don’t have to come in for that following day, and set up a date and time to come into the office for a meeting – the sooner, the better. (Why? Ever been eager to know your test result after leaving the doctor’s office, and the longer you wait, the more worrisome you become? That’s why.) They will most likely ask for the reason why for all this, but don’t give them an answer just yet and end it on a cliffhanger, which will plant the initial seed somewhere in their mind that something is up with this uncomfortable, unresolved feeling. Upon meeting up face to face on that date, proceed the same way in letting them go as you would’ve had if they had been asked to meet you in the office after work; tell them the reasons why and have things in writing.

PHASE 3: Peace Treaty – Easing the Damage

The next thing that you should offer is a letter of recommendation, typed out and signed for the person leaving the business. Whether they use the recommendation or not is up to them, but this should calm the situation a bit. If there is a severance package, mention that to them.

Remember, this should never ever be hostile. You have gotten the worst news out of the way, and now is the time to create goodwill with them. This is by far the most crucial part to make all of this work out. So, come bearing gifts for them to leave in peace.

Firing somebody is never easy and is probably the hardest thing any leader, manager, and business owner have to do. But, taking into account these three phases will make this whole process much more manageable.

by Staff

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