Electively employee termination is a difficult but sometimes necessary managerial duty. In large companies, human resources departments frequently take responsibility for firing an employee, but in small businesses, it's up to the owner. Learn how to fire an employee while to minimizing the potentially disruptive impact of an employee termination.Before Firing an Employee
A firing is warranted when an employee has failed to execute their responsibilities properly. Before you consider firing someone, be sure you have spelled out the letter of their job responsibilities.
1. Create an HR manual that describes company policy regarding office culture, vacation time, sick days, payroll deductions and other HR-related issues. Commercial software can automate and simplify the creation of such a manual, which will serve as a reference in all disputes with employees.
2. Clearly describe responsibilities at the beginning for every new hire. If you haven't told employees the exact scope and nature of their jobs, don't fire them for what might be due to your own breach of responsibility. It's your duty as a manager-owner to think carefully about what you want each new hire to accomplish and ensure that new hires understand and accept responsibility for their job roles, in-company behavior and other conditions of hire. Be as detailed as possible. The more you articulate what is required of new hires, the more confident they feel in their roles. If you do this well, terminated employees will be less likely to take the firing personally, and you will also feel managerially vindicated.
3. Offer a thorough orientation to your new hires. Orientations should give new employees an overview of the company's structure and policies as well as helping them understand their role and adjust to your workplace culture.
4. Document performance regularly and comprehensively. Build a file on employee performance from day one for every new hire. You're tracking how well they execute those responsibilities. Perform weekly reviews of the employee's work so that any slippage in performance can be caught and diagnosed while the consequences are still limited.
5. Document all lapses at the time of their occurrence. If an employee fails to follow general HR policies (such as notifying you of an unplanned absence) or job-specific responsibilities, document the lapse in writing and discuss it with the employee. If you feel that another lapse will result in a firing, warn the employee.The Employee Termination Itself
You've prepared an HR manual, made new hires thoroughly aware of their responsibilities and documented employee performance consistently. If an employee fails to meet your standards despite these procedures, you now have grounds to fire them. Here is how to go about it:
6. Depersonalize. Emphasize that the firing is about the position, not the person. Based on the steps above, you now have adequate basis to communicate that an employee can't fill a position the way you want it to be filled. Let your employee know that it is your responsibility to the company to fill the position to your satisfaction.
7. Don't be vindictive. An employee termination can bring out the worst in people, managers included, but this isn't the time to throw out the baby with the bathwater. If your employee has performed good work in other contexts, recognize it and offer to write a letter of reference.
8. Stick to the book. If your HR manual says that you will give two weeks' notice, give it. Employees will be aware of any discrepancy between what you decide to do and what you've written, be certain the two are consistent.
9. Follow the law. Legally, you can't fire employees while they're on jury duty, taking leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, or in other protected situations. Know what these situations are and never fire anyone who is covered under them (although some courts have upheld FMLA-timed firings).
10. Keep your documentation. Retain employee records indefinitely. If a fired employee sues you, you may need to prove that the firing was motivated entirely by professional factors. Your documentation will help you make this argument in court.
11. Manage the fallout. Discuss the situation with concerned employees. Don't share personal information about the fired employee, but emphasize that the firing took place according to pre-existing policies and procedures. This is your chance to emphasize the fairness of your company's policies and your managerial style. If other employees understand that the firing was not arbitrary, it won't cast a shadow over those who are fulfilling their responsibilities.