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When it’s Time for the Pink Slip

We can no longer think of the words “you’re fired” without envisioning Donald Trump delivering them as he glares across the table at a group of future “Donalds” in the Board Room. However, there are better ways to go about the process.

There are times when an employment relationship will just not work, no matter how much training, coaching, evaluation, and counseling time you put into it. If you have kept your responsibilities as an employer, and your employee is not meeting his or her responsibilities, it may be time to deliver the pink slip. Here are eight steps to letting an employee go.

Seek Support
Before firing an employee, review state laws regarding termination and consider receiving counsel from a Human Resource professional. Depending upon the nature of the firing, you might also consider asking a lawyer for legal advice.

Act Sooner than Later
Letting a problem employee go is best done sooner than later. The longer an employee’s negative actions go unchecked, the more difficult it is to let go. Set a three-month review period for new employees, let the new employee know that you will be reviewing performance within this time, and do it! If you have trained, coached, documented, and provided warning about performance lapses, and the employee is clearly not the right fit for the job, it is probably best to end the relationship.

Plan the Meeting
Be prepared for the termination meeting. Gather your records, which should include basic information about the employee such as hiring date, salary, sick time, vacation time, and time cards as well as performance appraisals, documentation regarding performance, and copies of verbal and/or written warnings. Be able to outline clear reasons for the employee’s termination.

Do it on Monday or Tuesday
The best time to fire someone is at the beginning of the day, at the beginning of the week. That gives you the remainder of the day and week to reassure your other employees that they are not going to be fired instead of sending them off on the weekend to worry about their own demise. It also provides time to smooth things over before the fired employee calls them at home to tell his side of the story.

Get a Witness
If you feel an employee termination will be difficult, you may want to bring in another manager, a Human Resource person, or other business professional as a witness to the proceedings to avoid any unfounded accusations.

Be Firm and Fair
Call the employee into your office or conference area and say you need to discuss something with her. Clearly state that you are letting her go, and clearly state the reasons why. The employee may want to negotiate for another chance, but remember you have done your research, you have documented and clearly spelled out performance issues, and you have made your decision and must now stand firm on it.

Provide Time to Gather Personal Belongings
If the employee is reasonable, allow some time for him to gather his belongings. Ask if you can assist or have someone else assist. You will need to determine and decide how much oversight is needed as he packs up. If an employee is unreasonable, you might want to suggest he return at an agreed upon date to pick up personal belongings or to wait while you and another worker pack them up.

Keep the Proceedings Confidential
While you want to assure your other employees that their job is secure, do not discuss why you let the employee go. Just say that you have let the employee go and provided reasons for ending employment.

These pointers can help you through the firing process, especially for employees with a short employment history. If you have a long-term, solid employee who is suddenly slipping, use good listening skills to get at the root cause of the problem, and develop an action plan for yourself and for the employee to set production back on track. If you believe the time has come to part ways, document, document, document, and provide the employee with ample warnings before termination.

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