How To Fire An Employee

12 Things You Should Never Do When Firing An Employee

Unfortunately, firing employees is a necessary part of business these days. Whether you manage a small restaurant, a franchised coffee shop, or a multi-national call center, you’re going to have to let someone go at some point during your career. Given this inevitability, you might be wondering what to do when it happens and exactly how to fire an employee.

In this article, the experts at Sling give you a how-to in reverse. We’ll reveal 12 things you should never do when firing an employee. From there, you can develop your own ideal method for terminating employment.

How To Fire An Employee: 12 Things You Should Never Do

1) Fire An Employee By Electronic Means

Manager firing an employee over text

Sure, the internet and electronic devices make communication extremely easy. But you should never use those tools to fire an employee. It’s impersonal, unprofessional, and can cause a lot of ill will (even animosity and anger) directed at your business.

That means no email, no IM, no voicemail, no social media…and definitely no phone call. If you’re going to fire an employee, do it face to face.

2) Surprise Them

One of the worst things you can do is fire an employee out of the blue without warning. Of course, this rule doesn’t apply in extreme situations (if someone becomes violent or steals company property, for example).

However, in regard to performance, you should regularly provide each and every employee with guidance and feedback. If you deem it necessary to fire an employee after they fail to meet the agreed-upon goals, at least they’ll have some idea why they’re being let go.

3) Fire The Employee By Yourself

You always want to think the best of your employees, but anyone can sue for any reason in today’s society. If you fire an employee by yourself and they decide to take you and the company to court, it becomes their word against yours.

That’s not a good position to be in. You can remove all liability by including a witness in the firing proceedings.

4) Compare The Employee To Someone Else

Managers at work

You should base your decision to let someone go on whether or not they succeed in meeting your business’s standards, goals, and behavioral expectations. Never make the choice by comparing the employee in question with another team member.

Even if you’re using another employee as a benchmark of sorts, it’s never a good idea to make that known to your employee.

5) Explain The Firing

If you’ve documented the employee’s performance and provided plenty of opportunities for improvement, there should be no need to explain the termination in detail. Reviewing their failures will only make the process more difficult.

That said, it’s always beneficial to have a simple answer prepared in case the employee questions your decision. We suggest something like, “I am letting you go because your performance doesn’t meet the company standards.”

A short answer along those lines will keep you from getting involved in the next thing you should never do when firing an employee.

6) Get Into An Argument

Some employees will go quietly, while others will want to argue with you over any little point. Try your best not to get pulled into a confrontation with an employee you’re in the process of firing. And, by all means, avoid saying or doing anything that might inflame the situation if an employee does start to vent.

7) Give The Employee A Reason To Think The Decision Isn’t Final

Using weak language in the hopes of “sugar coating” the termination is a recipe for disaster. Be firm in the language you use so the employee doesn’t somehow think that your decision isn’t final.

Consider opening the meeting with the following words so the employee doesn’t get the wrong idea: “The purpose of this meeting is to inform you of my final decision to terminate your employment.”

8) Forget To Provide A Termination Letter

Manager writing a termination letter

Providing a termination letter that outlines the basic information of what you tell your employee face-to-face provides another layer of protection for yourself and the business. When you give the employee a termination letter, keep a copy for your own files and have the employee sign both copies before they go.

9) Treat The Employee Like A Criminal

There are differing opinions as to whether a terminated employee should be escorted to their desk and then off the premises by security. Whatever method you choose to use, treat your ex-employee with the respect they deserve. If you make too big a scene out of it, you will only embarrass the employee even further.

10) Allow The Employee To Leave With Company Property

The easiest way to keep employees from leaving with company property is to have them bring specific items with them to the termination meeting.

When you call the employee into your office, provide them with a list of things to bring (e.g., key, door pass, laptop, tablet, phone). That way, all they have to do after being let go is gather their personal belongings and leave.

11) Make The Employee Go Back Their Desk If They Are Upset

If an employee is upset after being fired, provide a way for their personal belongings to be sent to them at their home. If that doesn’t work, set up a time after work hours or on the weekend for them to come back and collect their things.

12) Allow the Employee To Access Your IT Systems

Team members using technology to learn how to fire an employee

The best way to avoid problems caused by a disgruntled employee is to rescind their access to company email, contact information, and shared drive space while they are in the termination meeting. Don’t forget to revoke access to other cloud-based computer systems, like Sling’s online scheduling feature.

Make The Process Your Own

Now that you know what not to do, you can tailor the termination process to your own particular style. Whatever you decide to include and exclude, the most important thing is to get comfortable with what you’re going to say and do.

The first few times you fire an employee, you may need to keep a checklist in front of you to stay on track. Soon, though, you’ll get the hang of it and it won’t be such a daunting task.

For more great management tools and for help scheduling your employees, visit today.

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This content is for informational purposes and is not intended as legal, tax, HR, or any other professional advice. Please contact an attorney or other professional for specific advice.

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