Firing an employee is a stressful process for all parties involved. And while it’s never pleasant, there are appropriate ways to let someone go and others that will make the situation that much worse. Regardless of your position, if you are staffed with the responsibility of firing an employee there are things you should and should not do.
Below are the five worst ways to fire an employee:
1. Via email. On the surface, this might sound like a reasonable idea, particularly if the employee works remotely. You can fire the person without meeting face-to-face, thus avoiding an awkward situation. Unfortunately, this is the “coward’s way out.” It is never enjoyable, but you owe it to the other party to meet in person to discuss the decision.
2. Without giving notice. This doesn’t mean you will tell an employee in advance that they are being fired. What it does mean is you should consistently provide feedback, giving the employee the ability to see where they are coming up short.
If you decide the person is unable to get the job done, you can fall back on your past assessments when communicating your decision.
Note: an employee who receives one bad review after the next will begin to see the “writing on the wall.”
3. After a disagreement. The last thing you want to do is fire an employee after a disagreement or some type of argument. This is particularly true if you had no prior plan of doing so. Cool down before you decide what to do next. From there, you can decide what action to take and whether or not the person should remain part of the company.
Note: jumping the gun could lead to a wrongful termination lawsuit, which is not something you want to get caught up in.
4. Outside the office. Don’t fire an employee while attending a conference. Don’t fire an employee while out to lunch. If the time comes, you should have the conversation within the company’s office. This will protect both parties.
5. In front of other people. Do you remember when AOL CEO Tim Armstrong fired a worker on a conference call attended by more than 1,000 people? This is hands down one of the worst ways to fire an employee. Not only does it embarrass the person, but it puts you in a bad light as well.
Nobody wants to fire an employee, but if the time comes you should strongly consider the process you will follow and how it will make the other person feel. GoPro Founder and CEO Nick Woodman offers some quick advice on the best way to fire someone: