Breaking Up with an Employee

No one likes to fire an employee. It’s uncomfortable – even distressing – depending on the circumstances. But it’s one of the realities of managing. In fact, the rest of your staff will take note of how you handle it.

The key to dealing with a prospective termination is to be brutally honest about the situation. Objectively assess the person’s performance and determine if the situation can be salvaged. In some cases, the employee may not have been trained properly; in others she may have floundered due to bad (or no) management.

Discuss your concerns with the employee and give concrete examples of your expectations for performance. If performance doesn’t improve, determine whether there is another more suitable job available in your company. If you decide that it just won’t work, have a calm, detached and dignified conversation about exiting.

Although that describes what to do, here are a few examples of what not to do.

+ Ignore the inevitable because you fear provoking a bullying or disgruntled employee. Don’t act based on wanting to avoid confrontation.

+ Avoid challenging an employee who is clearly in the wrong job because you don’t want to admit that you made a hiring mistake.

+ Continue someone’s employment who is incompetent because you think having someone in the job is better than no one.

These are bad management practices. Avoid them.

The bottom line is this: face the situation in an impartial, realistic manner. Don’t hide behind your fear of confrontation, your embarrassment (real or imagined) about having made a mistake or thinking that incompetent coverage is better than having none.

This is never easy. But being decisive and proactive is always better than hoping that they’ll quit. It’s a reflection of you as a leader – and remember – your people take their cues from you.

Header image by Antoni Shkraba Production/Pexels.

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