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3 tips to emerge unscathed from sacking someone

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Having to fire an employee can be one of the most difficult conversations for a manager to have, but with a few simple tricks, the process can be as smooth and easy as ripping off a band aid, says Akankasha Dewan.

It’s the start of the year – the time where even the happiest of bosses brace themselves for another year of work frustrations, annoying staff, and unhygienic offices.

But it’s also the time of the year where bosses set new targets for their staff and review performances, and basically judge whether existing employees have what it takes to lead the company to new heights.

Of course, most existing employees are up to the challenge, but quite often you do come across staff who simply do not have what it takes to contribute to your firm – be it due to their own attitudes or the lack of an organisational fit.

In fact, you might also have to terminate employees due to an organisational re-shuffle, like Hootsuite did, or as part of your strategic growth plan, such as Yahoo’s.

In such a case, how do you let go of staff without facing painful amounts of drama, tears and – most of the time – extreme awkwardness?

While I personally haven’t been fired before (touch wood), I have heard stories of “successful” and quite “unsuccessful” firing sessions. Here are three methods which have worked in the past to make this unpleasant situation better – or at least as “better” as it can possibly be.

Make it quick and easy

Think of the process as ripping off another person’s band aid.

Lay the news on them gently, but firmly. Avoid long sentences and unnecessary pauses. They might elongate the weariness of the employee in question as he/she awaits the news of their termination.

Be professional

As unhappy as you are with your employee, this isn’t a time to go in-depth on their mistakes or use the termination session as an opportunity to vent out your frustration at him/her.

Instead, communicate clearly your reasons for terminating the employee’s stint at the role. It is also important to thank him/her for the services they have provided – regardless of whether those services have been up to standard.

ALSO READ: The best bosses don’t fire people… but should they?

Most bosses also announce the news of a person’s lay-off directly to him or her and behind closed doors. This ensures the individual doesn’t go through unnecessary amounts of judgment from other professionals.

Involve HR

A severance package can go a long way in minimising an employee’s potential anger. On the day of the dismissal meeting, invite a representative from HR to sit in and handle the paperwork.

This will allow the employee to shift his or her focus to logistics rather than on having been let go. For small businesses without HR departments, having an office manager sit in on the process could be just as effective. In many instances that manager will never hear from the employee again, but if a terminated employee does choose to take legal action, a well-prepared manager should have nothing to worry about.

Terminations are never easy – both for the employee and for the manager. But by working hard to prepare in advance for the termination session, and by adopting the right techniques, a manager can ease the transition and return to his or her tasks as quickly as possible.

READ MORE: Siemens to cut 7,800 jobs worldwide

Image: Shutterstock



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