As an employer or supervisor, you may have to perform the uncomfortable task of firing an employee. The process is never easy; terminating an employee can be a time consuming process. You already spent numerous hours hiring and training an employee with the expectations of quality performance. Firing an employee will lead to more hours spent on one person. Every business owner knows time is money. Consider these do’s and don’ts to help in the termination process.
Do’s and Don’ts
1. Do provide documentation. Documentation can aid in the termination process. Every employee in the company should have a file. When you decide to terminate an employee, you can use the file to prove poor performance reviews or disciplinary actions. Each entry should be properly dated with explanation for the action being implemented. Documentation is essential if an employee tries to take legal action for termination.
2. Don’t terminate an employee without a previous feedback or warning. There are exceptions to the rule. For example, an employee who is caught stealing should be terminated immediately. Other employees should receive coaching and performance feedback prior to termination. Remember some people learn at different speeds; extra training may lead to a stellar employee.
3. Do know your state laws. Most states participate in “at will” employment; giving an employer the right to termination without a reason. However, employees are protected under certain laws.
4. Don’t get emotional. A termination situation should never turn argumentative. You will want to keep the termination meeting brief to avoid confrontation. If you have not had practice in the termination process, you may want to prepare by writing out a notes. You can practice your speech prior to the meeting. After you end your meeting, shake hands. You want the entire process to remain civil.
5. Do have a witness. The termination meeting should be a private manner. The company or department does not need to know all the specifics leading up to the decision to terminate. During the termination meeting, you should have a witness. If employee challenges the termination through legal action, a witness can verify the facts.
6. Don’t allow a terminated employee near property or computers. When terminating employees, the process should be done late in the day. You do not want a visible upset employee near others or have access to the company’s information structure. Offer to send personal belongings home or give the terminated employee a chance to clear out area after others have gone home.
7. Do show respect. Respect an employee enough to do the termination process face to face. A note in the mailbox or email is not appropriate. Take into consideration that the employee is a person not just a number. Unfair treatment of employees can create a bad reputation for your company which can harm the recruiting process.
Having to let an employee go can be a tough situation. Hopefully this list of do's and don'ts will help guide you through the process.