Nervous about letting an employee go for the very first time? Here are some points to keep in mind.
No matter how thorough you are with your hiring process, you can still end up with employees that are just not the right fit for your company. Be it poor performance, an inability to be a team player or an unproductive attitude, there can be a lot of reasons why you might want to let an employee go. You don’t want to keep someone on your team that doesn’t meet your expectations or behaves in a way that goes against company policy repeatedly.
There is nothing pleasant about the process of firing an employee. In fact, it can be rather stressful for a startup founder who has carefully crafted their team. No one wants to end things on a bad note with the employee. Here are a few tips on how to gracefully let go of an employee.
Terminating your contract with an employee should never come as a surprise to them. Make sure you give the employee ample warnings through performance reviews and inform them on aspects they need to improve on. You have to actively tell your employees how their performance affects the overall company or certain behavior is unacceptable to the workplace. If they are not addressing these red flags accordingly, then you can actually use these repeated warnings as the basis of your decision. Make sure the reasons for dismissal are documented for some time before the actual termination.
Have a face-to-face conversation
The best way to go about communicating your decision to terminate an employee is through face-to-face communication. Any other kind of communication might end up making the employee feel blindsided and also can leave room for miscommunication. Make sure not to go into lengthy explanations; be clear and concise because rehashing dissatisfaction is not going to be beneficial. Make sure that you are prepared to answer questions about the employee’s final paycheck, among other things they might want to know. Make sure you have this conversation privately so as to not embarrass the employee.
Have a witness in the room
In some situations, an employee might feel like they have been wronged and could end up filing a lawsuit after termination. Make sure a representative from the human resources (HR) department is present when you communicate with the employee. The HR executive could act as a witness if the company does get sued. During the termination process, they can ensure that you treat all employees fairly and could also keep the discussion on track just in case you run out of words.
Inform your team
It is crucial that you inform the rest of your employees about the termination to prevent any rumors from brewing. Often time, people might express their displeasure about their termination, say, on social media. If your team isn’t properly informed about the termination of their co-worker, they might read into the circumstances that the ex-employee portrays and misunderstand the grounds for their termination.
While it is important that you are clear and precise about the reasons why their co-worker was terminated, make sure to avoid unnecessary details to protect the privacy of the former employee. Handling the entire termination process with dignity also shows your employees that they can trust you to treat them with respect.
End things on a positive note
Just because you are letting an employee go does not mean there has to be resentment associated with it. Thank the employee for their contributions to the company and wish them the best for their future endeavors. You can also talk to them about future employment options and even suggest roles at other companies that they might be a better fit for. It is important to be empathetic to the employee’s situation. While the whole termination process might be hard for you, it would be even harder for them. Don’t ask them to clear out their desk in front of their co-workers; instead, arrange a specific time after work hours or during the weekend for them to do so.
Make sure everything, from the salary that the company owes the employee to any unemployment benefits that the company offers, are all set in place before you have the conversation. Run what you’re going to say by an HR representative to make sure you stay on track. While letting an employee go is never easy, it is part and parcel of running a business.
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