When it Is Not Working Out: Firing an Employee
Your employees are the backbone of your organization. Ideally, you have a team of well-suited professionals who perform their duties well and reliably while abiding by all company policies. What if, however, you discover that someone employed by your business is not performing up to par, or has significantly violated company rules? An underachieving or unscrupulous employee can quickly and negatively affect your business’ productivity and culture. What can be done to help a struggling employee do a better job - or regain trust in one who doesn’t play by the rules? This guide will help you respond to a troublesome employee, determine whether she should be retained or let go and, if fired, how best to handle the situation.
Some common infractions for which you may consider firing an employee include:
Terminating an employee is a major step and one that should not be taken rashly or lightly. As an employer, it’s important that you set your employees up for success. When you do, it will be more evident when someone is under-performing or breaking rules and simpler to articulate the issues that are causing problems on the job.
One of the most effective ways to avoid the extreme step of terminating an employee is to develop a proactive procedure for evaluating and dealing with employee performance which includes these components:
As an employer, it’s only natural to become personally invested in your employees. You must walk the line between being an understanding, compassionate human being and an assertive, results-oriented professional. Bear in mind that, no matter the reason for the under-performance or misbehavior, this is a professional scenario, not a personal one. Chances are, by the time you are considering termination, the employee is likely as unhappy with his job as you are with his performance.
When and if it comes down to firing time - the employee has failed to improve in the previously agreed-upon ways - these actions will help make the situation as comfortable as can be expected:
It’s your responsibility as an employer to be aware of the laws and regulations that govern your employees’ fair treatment and appropriate termination procedures. Consult the U.S. Department of Labor and your state government’s labor department to ensure that you are following all applicable laws pertaining to the termination of an employee.
Follow up the termination with a letter detailing the reason(s) for termination and required exit actions, such as returning company-owned equipment or clearing out an office. The letter should also remind the ex-employee of non-disclosure agreements or other contractual obligations.
If at all possible, sever the professional relationship on the best possible terms. If the main issue was that he lacked certain skills or was a poor fit for your company (rather than being an overall poor employee), offer to give him a recommendation to a new employer as to the attributes he did bring to the job.
Firing an employee is a stressful situation. It’s better for all concerned, however to put an end to a toxic relationship rather than suffer through it. If done with care and consideration, a termination can make room for an employee who’s a more appropriate asset to your business while affording the former employee the opportunity to find more suitable employment.
How do you handle firing an employee?