So when is the right day to fire someone? Most people like to terminate people on Friday, near the end of the day. I prefer to fire people on Monday, for two reasons.
- Firing someone on a Friday makes them fester all weekend. On a Monday morning, people can start looking for a job right away, get moving on the next stage of their career, and try and be positive. (It also keeps from ruining their weekend, and at least they get the week off…..)
- The company is in a better position to respond to any issues or retaliation that might arise. A weekend is a long time for problems to develop, having your team ready to handle issues is important.
Two things on your feelings.
Many people have feelings of guilt, disappointment, angst, or fear about letting someone go. It’s OK to feel this way! (If you don’t feel some empathy for the person, you might have deeper personality issues you need to address. Watch some Dr. Phil and get back to me. ) When I feel this way I remember two things to re-center myself;
- I’m firing them for a purpose. – This person was underperforming. This impacted the team, the company, and customers, risking our corporate well being. If my reasons are valid, this person made the path for me to fire them.
- I’m holding them back – This sounds like total B.S. at first. People sometimes take the wrong job, and lack the conviction to change. This person needs to move on and find a position they love.
Doing the deed.
So you’re ready, and it’s time to call this person in. The key is to be firm, fair, and try not to verbally beat the hell out of the person through the talk. I’ve had people cry, beg, scream, be unphased, I even had one person leave and slash the tires on my car! (He was a VERY bad hire. Slashing my tires was the only job he did that wasn’t half-assed…..)
Keep your cool, stay to the point at hand, and walk through the conversation. Do not waiver that the person is being fired; people will try and negotiate with you for hope of keeping their job. Have a second manager with you to witness everything, and to help escort the person out. If you’re having trouble framing a conversation, here is a sample outline of a manager firing someone named Jack.
Manager: Jack, we needed to talk today with you about your position here at ABC Company. Due to the ongoing issues with your absenteeism, we have made the decision to terminate your position for due cause. Your absences have impacted your effectiveness at your position, and we are terminating your employment immediately. When we are finished talking, we would like you to pack up your desk, turn in your company ID card, and please leave the office. In addition, we expect you not to return to our office unless invited and to please refrain from interacting with your former co-workers during business hours. Per the terms of your NDA and non-compete, legal action will be pursued if you attempt to steal or slander our company with any of our customers. I understand this is hard, and we wish you the best on finding a new position at another company. Do you have any questions that I can answer for you?
Whatever happens next, DO NOT REACT EMOTIONALLY! People will make threats, scream, cry, whatever; you cannot lose your cool with them. If the situation gets too charged, leave the room, and call the police. If they are visibly upset, offer to pack up their personal items later, so they can leave quietly. Someone who is completely unsurprised and simply shrugs it off is someone you should have fired sooner. Try to respect and honor their feelings, and just let them leave as soon as possible.
Tell your team about the termination. Avoid any negative talk, blame, or verbal hatred for the person; focus conversations around who is the ideal new person for the job. Keep the specific details for termination quiet, simply say they were terminated for cause.
Follow your checklist
Lock out their access to your systems, start on dealing with the outstanding items from the termination, and look to the future. Keep your documentation handy for when the Unemployment office calls about their claim, and stand your ground about them being terminated. (People ALWAYS make a claim that they were everything but fired.) Your unemployment insurance rates will go up for every person who claims UI, and people who were fired have no right to unemployment. Take some time to reflect on what went wrong and how you’ll fix it in the future, then head out for a drink!