The Top 5 Mistakes To Avoid When Firing Employees

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It’s not a situation that any employer wants to face, but it’s a fact of life. Firing an employee can be a difficult situation for both parties. You want to be sure to offer up reasons as to why the firing is happening. You also want to be compassionate because this is negatively impacting somebody’s life. The truth is though that a lot of employers act out of emotion or feel that they are justified, and they allow the firing to go terribly wrong.

You don’t have to fall into this trap, and so looking at some of the most common mistakes can help you to avoid making them. It’s about finding a fine balance, ensuring that your employee leaves on a positive note, and therefore protecting your reputation as an employer.

As an employer, you might not think of these common mistakes until it’s too late. You want to be sure that you are always fair. You want to be certain to consider that it is a person that you are dealing with. Even if their actions or work ethic made the situation inevitable, be sure that you have the right approach in firing them. Here are some of the most common mistakes to avoid when you do have to fire an employee.

Not Taking A Professional Approach To The Actual Firing

The last thing that you want to do is fire based upon emotion. You also don’t want to turn this into a public event. Even if you have just cause or the employee did something inexcusable, you absolutely need to keep the firing private and professional. You need to prepare for this and be sure that you keep it as professional as you can, for making it a spectacle can be a huge mistake in the firing process.

Take the time to think it through, gather all of the required information, and then set aside the right time and place. Doing it in the middle of the office or where others may see or hear is never a good idea. Don’t act on emotion, stay calm and stick with the facts, and then you don’t have to worry about the outcome as much.

Not Having A True Cause or Reasons To Back It Up

Far too many employers fire employees without properly thinking it through. This can be a horrible decision because if there wasn’t justifiable cause then it could lead to legal trouble down the line. You want to be sure that you have documentation for this can serve you well.

Try to build a case, hold onto any proof, or at the very least have a distinct reason as to why you fired the employee in the first place. You want to be able to point to a behaviour, a decision, or something that the employee did that is causing them to be let go. This protects you as the employer but also helps the employee to understand why this action is necessary.

Taking Too Long Or Not Getting To The Point

You may have just cause, but you wait far too long to fire them. You might feel bad for their situation or get personally attached. You may just hate the potential confrontation that lies ahead of you, and therefore you let the bad behaviour or mistakes linger far too long. This is hurting them, but it’s also hurting you in the long run. By taking too long, you are setting a bad precedent and may be contributing to low morale among other employees.

Another part of this is that when you do fire the employee, you want to get to the point. Being too wordy is a huge mistake—so just say what you mean and mean what you say, for  saying too much is never good. You may end up saying things that you don’t mean or that you shouldn’t. You may also try to sugarcoat mistakes that are truly damaging. Though you want to be compassionate you also need to get to the point so that you don’t make yourself look bad or release information that should stay private.

Not Being Honest or Having Compassion

You have to be professional, honest, and sympathetic when firing an employee so be prepared with facts preferably at a performance review. You want to be truthful as to the reasons why they are being let go.

You want to keep it professional and not emotional—but you should have some empathy for the fact that they are losing their job. Yes this is business and so professionalism goes a long way here. You have to remember though that these are real people and that dealing with them with a bit of compassion can help both of you in the long run.

You want to be sure to discuss this in private and keep the emotion out of it. Be factual, straightforward, to the point, but show that you have some sympathy for their situation. This is not personal and you want to be sure to avoid making it that way. Maintaining this fine balance can really work wonders for your ability to maintain a good reputation as an employer.

Not Having an Exit Plan

It can be quite helpful to offer an outplacement service when letting an employee go. According to Velvet Jobs, some of benefits include invaluable counselling for ex employees, the ability to maintain the company image and reducing lawsuit claims. The reality is that this can take some of the sting out. It may also offer them an option to move forward with their career, and so it’s a productive measure. If you can offer outplacement services, then consider having a consultant available right after your meeting.

This can allow the employee to focus on their future in a positive way. It can make the firing less painful for them and it can ensure that you take care of your employees in one last gesture. This is truly a win win for everyone involved, so think this through ahead of time!

It’s never easy to fire an employee, but if you know what to focus on then you can make it an amicable situation. Go in armed with facts, keep it professional, and show that you care about their well being. This takes a lot of balance but the work you put into this will help you to be successful and ensure that your previous employees continue to have positive things to say about their time with you.

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Author: Joe Flanagan

Joe Flanagan has over 7 years experience in job searching and hiring and is currently the Senior Consultant at the Velvet Jobs outplacement service . When he's not trying to fix the unemployment rate you can find him running middle distance competitions and trying plenty of new exotic dishes.

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