No one enjoys being the bad guy, at work, at home or even in your friendship group. Delivering bad news is never enjoyable but sometimes it is necessary.
If you have to fire someone, do it with a little bit of compassion. Here’s how.
The prospect of firing someone you’ve worked with for years is daunting but you should never delay the conversation. Once the decision has been made arrange a meeting.
Firing someone should be the final step in a process that began long before the termination talk. Make sure you have the documentation to prove it. This may include things like formal warnings etc.
Remember that you are doing this for the good of the team. After all, they are the people picking up the slack.
Don’t fire someone on a Monday
There’s a reason that people usually get fired at 5pm on a Friday afternoon. It’s not because you don’t want them to lose their temper and wreck the office, it’s because you want to give them time to mull over what has happened.
You need to give your employees some time away from the office to process what is going on. They are much more likely to have a support network to lean on during the weekend.
Always double check with HR
Before you set up the meeting make sure that you double check everything with HR. You’re not asking their permission, you’re simply checking in to see if there are any extenuating circumstances that might mean you need to hold off for a week or two. For example, an employee might have a sick family member etc.
HR should be involved in every stage of the hiring and firing process. Make sure that they sit in on the meeting as this will make the whole encounter more professional and much less awkward.
Keep it brief
When firing someone you should try to be as concise and as clear as possible. Don’t waffle! You need to summarise in a few sentences why the employee is being let go. For example, ”Unfortunately, we need to terminate your employment as you did not meet your sales targets.”
If the employee lashes out or reacts angrily it is important that you do not retaliate. Remain calm and do not apologise. You have your reasons.
Offer an olive branch
Being fired is traumatic, even if they saw it coming. It is important that you are empathetic. If the employee is genuinely a good person with employable skills then offer to write them a letter of recommendation or introduce them to another employer in the sector.
Spend time with them after you break the initial news. You might be tempted to run away and leave HR to pick up the pieces but good leaders are sympathetic. Answer any questions that they may have.