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You're Fired!

First and foremost I want to congratulate Terry Chapman, Fellowship Church’s IT Director for launching his new blog! I guess you can even say that it all goes back to Brian Bailey. If you are not tapped into these guys’ blogs, add them to you blog roll they have some great stuff. Anyway, TC wrote a great article I wanted to share with you.--------------------------------------------------- I recently attended The Summit Leadership Conference hosted by Willow Creek Community Church out of Chicago. It was a great conference and there was a terrific cross-section of speakers representing many different sectors including business, academia, athletics, and church to name a few. An item that kept coming up regarding being a successful leader and manager, was being able to, and knowing when to fire an employee. With many speakers going out of their way to bring up this point, I thought I should do some research on how to get better in this area.

Firing an employee is no fun for anyone. It’s sort of like that thing I used to hear ever so often, “son this is for your own good”. Or here's a good one, “this hurts me as much as it hurts you”, sure, right I used to think. Every boss hates doing it, but the tough pill to swallow is that the day will come when you'll have to fire an employee. Sometimes a new company or church direction means it's time to part with some of the current staff. Other times an employee just gets into a slump or complacent and needs a new direction. Often, the best thing an employer can do is release an employee from a situation that's not working for either of them, and that will be even truer when the firing is done. In a way, that lets the employee save face. But fire an employee poorly, and you'll be leaving yourself open to a possible lawsuit for wrongful termination or defamation.

Here is what I have come up with from different sources, but the majority from Network World.

Don’t hesitate to get counsel I have always lived by, “never make a major decision, in a time of indecision”. If you are unsure of letting someone go, seek counsel about it. Get a manager that you have a good relationship with, and that is good with managing people, to hear the details of the situation and give you their thoughts. Arrange a meeting with HR regarding the decision. They obviously deal with these types of situations a lot more than most of us and often have a lot of wisdom to pass along. Going to others not only helps you shape your decision, but it builds and strengthens relationships with those you have gone to by showing them that you respect their opinion and perspective on the matter.

Keep Good Records If misconduct is the reason for dismissal, be sure to document the warnings the employee received. Some corporate policies say the individual should receive on verbal warning, one written warning if another incident occurs and termination after the third incident.

If warnings are given, particularly if the cause is performance-related, be sure to document the job specification, where the individual is falling short, and how and by when the improvements should occur. Give a copy of the documents to the employee, and let them know when the next review date will be.

Pick the proper time and place The best time to terminate a worker is at the beginning of the week, according to experts. This allows mangers explain to explain to their staff’s what has happened and how the work load will be distributed.

Schedule the termination meeting to occur when there are as few people around as possible, such as early in the morning or at lunchtime. It also should take place in a neutral room preferably close to a building exit. If you conduct the discussion in your office, the employee might feel reluctant to leave the room, and if it takes place in the employee’s office, that person would feel awkward after you walk away.

Plan the participants and dialogue The direct manager should conduct the meeting if at all possible. If a manager can’t terminate as well as hire, they’ve lost respect of their team. Don’t pass the buck to Human Resources, whose role is to sit in on the meeting to provide support and be ready to answer any questions about benefits that the company might owe to the employee.

When delivering the “good news”, be sure to cover what is happening, why, the effective date, and affirmation that there is no alternative and an expression of condolence. An example would be, “We’ve talked with you several times of our needs and asked you to meet deadlines, but we have not seen any improvements. Effective today, we are relieving you of your duties. Sorry, but today is your last day with the company. There is no alternative.”

Arrange the exit Remember the goal is to treat everyone with respect, professionalism, and compassion. If it is necessary to have security involved or you think the potential is there for a volatile situation, arrange to have security present or close should the need arise.

Give them a choice to arrange to get their things now or at a scheduled time later. How you arrange and handle the exit could determine whether the employee pursues litigation, which no one wants. --------------------------------------------------- This is good stuff. The only addition that I would make would be… do not hesitate. Too often we wait too long to fire someone. I appreciate how important it is to have your ducks in a row, but don’t postpone the inevitable. I highly encourage managers and leaders to really use the probation period, and cut ties early if it’s not working out. I can promise you one thing, if a new hire is not working out in the first 90-120 days, they will not work out in the long term. -ts

LeadershipTerry Storch