Twenty five years ago I was having lunch with my manager and he told me he was going to fire a coworker that day. I was new to the training business, I was a salesperson but I knew I wanted to be a facilitator. I was trying to soak up everything about management, leadership, owning a company, everything. So, I asked if I could sit in the meeting as a learning experience. My boss said, “Well, HR says I have to have a witness so, sure, you can sit in the meeting.”
That afternoon the meeting started, it was my boss, my coworker and me sitting off to the side, strictly as an observer. My manager said to my coworker, “All companies go through changes and today you’re one of those changes.” Angered by the cruel remark my coworker jumped out of his chair and attacked my boss. I stepped in between them to separate them. They were shouting and throwing punches grabbing each other clothes. Someone called the police, a fellow employee came in the office to help separate the two. It was quite a scene.
After the police escorted the terminated employee out my boss said to me, “That did not go the way I had it planned.” Really!?
I don’t do workshops on how to fire employees any more. Especially since I have been conducting more workshops internationally, laws are different country to country and state to state.
People are fired everyday. Employees underperform, economy takes a dive, and companies over-estimate their growth potential and over hire. I love how we try to soften the termination by calling it, rightsizing, cut-backs or lay-offs. It’s like companies change the name so it will somehow not hurt as much. It is, from time to time, necessary to terminate an employees.
Here a few things to keep in mind if you ever find yourself in a position to let someone go.
Don’t be afraid to fire someone. Where I live in St. Paul and where my office is in Minneapolis I have a twenty minute drive. Along the way I past our Veterans Cemetery, my dad and a few uncles are buried there. As I go by I look at the thousands of white tombstones and think, “There are the men and women who put their lives in harms way for this country. They are the people who sacrificed themselves so the rest of us could have a better life.
Well, once in a while, in the business world, we have to sacrifice someone so the rest of us can have a better life. Letting someone go may be strictly a monetary move, this is good for the financial health of the company. We may need to terminate someone for underperforming, this may be good for the mental health of the company. Don’t be afraid to fire someone, it may be the best thing for your company, overall.
Know your company policies and procedures for letting an employee go. You don’t want to be at the point where you need to terminate someone and then realize you haven’t followed your company procedures. And it’s your responsibility to know the rules. Sure, HR can give you the information but, it’s up to you to know the rules.
Protect their Self-esteem. No one wants to devastate someone for underperforming. We still want the terminated employee to go out into the world and contribute. Hey, it didn’t work out here, there are plenty of other places to work that can use your skills.
No one wants to fire or be fired. It’s said that it’s one of the most dramatic times in a person’s life, right there with divorce. Keep these tips in mind when the time comes to let an employee go, they can take the sting out of the event.
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