Leadership has its perks and benefits; however, occasionally managers have to make difficult decisions especially when it comes to firing. In reality there is no great approach on how to fire employees ‘smoothly’. This is because the process involves terminating another individual’s source of livelihood. On the other hand, terminating a non-performing employee can significantly impact positively on your overall organizational performance.
Dismissal as Option of Last Resort
It important that an employee should have been granted ample opportunities and time to address his/her shortcomings, with the assistance of training and refresher courses, to improve their performance before resorting to firing them. It is only fair to consider all available avenues of distractions and conflicts that may be affecting the employee’s performance or work relations. For instance, maybe the employee is not suited for the job posting they are in but can perform better in another department. In addition, during the performance management process, ensure that there is an open communication channel to ensure that the worker fully understands the expectations of the company.
Reasons for Termination
There are numerous reasons why a business leader may be forced to fire an employee. However, it is important for managers to be able to differentiate employees who have the potential to improve and those that cannot fit into the organizational culture or rhythm.
A business leader should develop a worker who:
- Acknowledges their shortcomings and are willing to improve
- Consistently seeks feedback and are enthusiastic to learn
- Takes responsibility for their faults and demonstrate willingness to improve their performance
- Consistently shows gradual improvements in performance
- Have skills gaps that can be easily developed through training and education.
- On the other hand employers should fire employees who:
- Lack enthusiasm or interest in improving themselves
- Do not accept responsibility for their mistakes
- Show no effort in improving their performance
- Lack essential competencies that are difficult to impart through training, like salesmanship or ethics
- Have no track record of consistent improvements.
In instances that you have an employee who sits on the fence between a good employee and bad employee, issuing an ultimatum of improvement or putting them on probation with a clear and realistic timeline usually works. However, in case this approach doesn’t work the employer should not refrain from terminating their contract. In the end it may prove to be too costly trying to accommodate an employee who is not suited for your organization.
How to Terminate an Employee
As earlier stated, there is no easy way of terminating an employee, but to be on the safe side in case the employee sues the company for illegal termination, always avoid giving specific or detailed reasons for firing the employee. The reasons for termination should be stated in broad terms and should not in any way suggest that any precipitating event leading to the termination was the sole or key reason of the axe.
To cushion yourself from any legal tussle that may arise because of the termination it is important to document everything. Important documents that may come in handy during such instances include performance appraisals, minutes from disciplinary committees, disciplinary reports and other employee relations documents.
All in all, termination is part parcel of any staff management scheme; however it should be carried out with the highest level of professionalism.