There has never been a time when firing an employee has given a business owner or manager a degree of satisfaction. It can be a tortuous process for both employee and employer alike and more often the whole exercise ends in tears. There are, however, ways that you can manage the process without it getting out of hand. Trust me, as some who has been in a position where I have had to lot people go knowing how to manage the process makes the whole thing a lot easier.
Here are my tips:
Know the law
Make sure you know the law because you can bet your employers will or they will learn fairly quickly
Never let someone go until you have received advice from someone whose job it is to understand employment law. The law itself can be tricky and will always depend on both the circumstances and the location. For example, in the United States there are differences between workers’ rights per State and then at the Federal level while in Australia Federal law is normally the final arbiter of a dismissal. There will always be circumstances where dismissal is instant such as the case with theft but even in those circumstances you need to ensure you have the burden of proof on your side – in other words the evidence. It is not good enough to simply make an accusation without proving it. There are also laws that govern race, color, religion, sex and disability so make sure you are not sacking someone purely because you don’t agree with how they live their lives. If you are confused make sure to seek advice from the appropriate people.
Before you fire someone make sure you are prepared – don’t just wing it. be prepared for every eventuality because it’s never smooth. Make sure that there can be no question about why you are firing someone so beforehand make sure you list out all of the reasons and try where possible to follow the script. If you deviate you could find yourself in trouble later on as conversations that are verbal could benefit the employee if you are forced in front of a court or a tribunal. There are also other questions you will need to have answers prepared for such as any pay out and when it will be made, when and how they can collect their personal belongings. Perhaps the biggest questions you need to have answers for are the “but why? What have I done wrong?”
Always conduct an exit interview wherever possible
An exit interview can be a valuable source of information for your business – they tell you a lot about what employees might really think but it also gives the employee the opportunity to vent about their experience while working for you. When an employee is fired they are more likely to tell you the truth and be blunt. Of course, the exit interview can also provide valuable insights if, later on, you are taken to court. An employee may concede points and make statement in the exit interview that could be beneficial in validating why you terminated their employment
Are you sure you really want to fire them?
Sometimes an employee doesn’t work out not because they are bad but because they are in the wrong role. Before you make a termination decision (more often than not on the basis of performance) always try and see if there is a role within your business that the employee might be better suited for. If so, it may be better to try and convince them to shift roles and then it is a case of how you harness them. If you don’t have to fire someone then don’t.
You could have set yourself up for failure from the beginning
Let’s face it hiring an employee is not always done following a process and the challenge with small business owners is we often let emotion or gut feel get in the way of good decision making. If you are not following a process and you hire on gut feel then nine times out of ten you will get the wrong person and that is why you need to follow process – otherwise you can set you and your business up for failure. Sure using a recruitment company might cost money but the onus is on them to pre-screen candidates and give you a top list that you can draw from. Remember there is a cost associated with hiring and firing from the salary you pay someone to the opportunity cost to the time it takes to hire someone new.
So, the advice? Always hire the right people because at the end of the day it’s the only thing stopping from needing to fire anyone!
So, five things to keep in mind when looking at needing to fire someone! Remember, come and join me and the team over at www.entrehub.org for more news and insights for small business, start-ups and entrepreneurs.
About the author: Matthew Tukaki is the founder and publisher of the fastest growing news site for entrepreneurs, small business and start-ups in the world, the EntreHub.org. He is a respected business leader, executive board director and philanthropist as well as a best-selling author. Join him on twitter @tukakimatt
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