By Alan Graner
Disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer. In some companies firing a person involves legal issues that should be resolved before the actual firing takes place.
According to numerous studies, most people don’t want the power to fire someone. It’s damn difficult to look someone in the eye and tell them you’re letting them go (unless you’re a sadist or The Psycho Boss from Hell).
I’m not talking about layoffs here—that’s a completely different animal.
I’m talking about firing someone for cause: They’re bad at their job, incompetent or highly disruptive. They sexually harass others. Or lie, cheat and steal. Or antagonize customers.
Here’s how to do it.
The art of firing
When the time comes to terminate their employment don’t humiliate, bludgeon or torture the employee.
Don’t call them into your office and give them a 20-minute preamble while they squirm in their seat wondering what’s about to happen.
Instead, act like a professional with a businesslike, no-nonsense attitude. Don’t B.S., offer false sympathy or (God forbid!) act like this is harder for you than for them. It’s not a psychodrama, it’s a business transaction.
Begin by telling them upfront you’re letting them go and give them a few moments to absorb the information. Then proceed to give specific reasons for your action. You may have to remind the employee they’ve been reprimanded or warned in the past about their deficiencies.
Don’t argue with the employee or debate the issues. They failed to meet their objectives or violated company policy. End of story.
If yours is a large company, you may want an HR person present as a resource and also to inform the fired employee of their rights.
Firing someone isn’t pleasant and it isn’t fun. The alternative, however, is to let a cancer grow within your company.
How do you fire people?
Alan Graner is Chief Creative Officer at Daly-Swartz Public Relations, an Orange County, CA business public relations and marketing content firm. For content that makes you stand out from the crowd, email Jeffrey Swartz at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit www.dsprel.com.