Are you starting to realize that one of your employees is acting like a Decepticon?
Being in a management position comes with a ton of perks, but unfortunately, there are times when you have to cut the cord. There are plenty of reasons why a business relationship needs to transform, but great care needs to be taken in order for both parties to walk away from the meeting relatively unscathed.
It Should Come As No Surprise
Terminating someone is incredibly difficult, even if they deserve it. Maybe they started a “30 minutes late” ritual their second week of work, perhaps they use the company computer for inappropriate material or maybe the company is progressing and they’re just not keeping up. Whatever the reason for firing the employee, it shouldn’t come as a surprise.
As a dedicated and adept manager, previous steps should have been taken in response to the issues the employee is presenting. This can be in the form of annual or semi-annual performance reviews. Honest communication about deficiencies gives employees the chance to reflect on their performance and have the time to either fix the issue or ignore it. If they choose the latter, then it is an indication that they are opting to risk termination. Having set employee expectations and mentoring people who need tuning-up, leaves you knowing that you gave the employee everything they needed to succeed.
Keep Up With Compliance
A big piece of HR advice for employers is to make sure you have a good case so you don’t end up getting sued. If you keep in line with compliance laws, that shouldn’t be an issue. Be sure that you have working knowledge of federal laws, state laws and local regulations. Having professional HR assistance to make sure you’re covering all bases is the best way to know you’re safe in case of a legal dispute.
The next big tip is to document, document, document. Documenting allows you to have a clear record of performance and past situations ready for review. This will come in handy when either considering an employee for termination or counteracting statements said by an ex-employee attempting to sue you. Of course, you have to document well, and be precise with your words. Don’t say: “They made others uncomfortable.” Instead, say: “They made regular crude comments toward other employees and did not stop when reprimanded for this behavior.” In conjunction with documentation, when it comes time to actually fire the employee, you should have one other person in the room so as not to fall victim to a he-said she-said scenario.
Getting fired is hard enough, so avoid any pitfalls that may lead to it being worse. For starters, make sure there is no misunderstanding. Using language like “I don’t think this is working out” or “the company is moving in another direction” can seem like easy-to-understand statements, but when it comes to firing someone you need to be concise and to the point. Dragging out discussions will not change the circumstances and will often add to their already mounting humiliation. The entire termination meeting should last no longer than 15 minutes.
Another way to leave your soon-to-be ex-employee with their dignity is to be private with the meeting. Try to have the meeting when there are fewer people milling around the office in case they become emotional. No one wants to get fired and then be seen crying leaving the office. Grant them extended privacy by offering to let them come back during non-business hours to clear out their desk.
During the meeting, they may be upset or even yell. It is important for you to stay calm and collected in the face of fury. Questions may crop up toward the end of the meeting, and you should be prepared for them. Feel free to answer any logistical questions, such as severance pay and last day, but be careful what you answer outside of these types of inquiries. For other types of questions, refer to a professional HR service before the termination meeting in order to review questions that might come up and how to answer them.
Terminating a business relationship is difficult and awkward, but it is necessary for a company’s livelihood. Keep in mind that it shouldn’t be a surprise – proper action should have been previously taken to discuss shortcomings. Make sure that you’re in line with compliance laws so you don’t find yourself in a courtroom weeks later. Lastly, don’t add insult to injury – let them leave with their dignity. After shedding your Megatron types, you can continue to lead your company to a bright future and victory!