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Firing an Employee – 7 Tips for Reducing Stress

Submitted by  on October 20th, 2010

Have you ever had to fire an employee? They may be just not pulling their weight or they may have had their hand in the till. If you are like most managers, telling a staff member that they are no longer needed is a sure fire way to get stress levels up to the maximum.

Here are my seven top tips for minimizing your stress when firing an employee. Following these steps will also minimize the risk to you and your company that the employee will lodge a law suit against you.

  1. Give the employee plenty of advanced warning that you are not satisfied with their performance or behavior.
  2. Hold the discussions with the staff member in private, preferably in a neutral area and well out of earshot of others.
  3. Let the person know in advance the time and purpose of the meeting.
  4. Set objectively verifiable behavior or performance goals and then back up your progress reports with actual, recorded observations.
  5. Focus the discussion on observable behaviors, without ascribing an aberrant personality or bad motives to the staff member.
  6. After giving your feedback, acknowledge and respect how the employee feels.
  7. Let the employee know your company’s escalation process and stick to it.

By following the above employee termination tips, you will not only save yourself a lot of tension and worry, you will also be doing your best to keep the employee working for your company. And if all of your efforts fail, you will be able to hold your head up high, knowing that you gave the employee every opportunity to succeed.

Posted in Communication, Performance | Comments (2)

2 Responses to “Firing an Employee – 7 Tips for Reducing Stress”

  1. Jennifer McCoy Says:

    Excellent advice Les;
    Excellent advice Les.
    I’ll add a few thoughts from another perspective – to expand on Tip 5 . While it’s difficult to imagine an upside to discovering theft, where a person is not contributing, there may well be scope for having this unpleasant responsibility turn out positively. Idealistic? Not really, especially if this occasion is the final step after regular feedback.

    It’s important that the manager makes it quite clear there is no more room for negotiation. However, there are ways of handling the situation that allow the employee to leave with dignity. Realistically very few people deliberately set about sabotaging their employment, theft being one of them. We spend so many hours of our lives at work that it’s fairly safe to assume that people prefer to be happy there. If they aren’t meeting your expectations after feedback and support, it’s probably because they aren’t in the right niche.
    So, that’s a good place to start – and what have you got to lose? By using a few well thought out questions, you might be able to help the person realise that the job wasn’t right for them. Allow some time for emotions to run their course first. Now, start by identifying something they did well and ask: “That was clearly one of your strengths, did you find many opportunities here to use that skill?” or “What did you like most about this job?” Other questions could be: “What was it about the job that disappointed you?” or “What would have made the job really worthwhile for you”.
    Depending on the circumstances, on the intensity of emotions, it might be possible to ask a question that opens possibilities for the future, one the person may not be able to answer immediately: “What would be your ideal job – if you could do anything?”

  2. leslieallan Says:

    Thanks Jen,

    That’s a really valuable insight. If you can assist the employee work out where they would be better placed by helping them identify their key strengths, you would both leave the conversation having gained something valuable. In two years’ time, the employee may even thank you for firing them. Now, wouldn’t that be different.

    Kind Regards, Les Allan

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