Mistakes to Avoid When Firing Someone

July 19, 2019

Bonnie Schedin, a human resources expert, shares how a manager can tackle a tough part of their job – how to fire someone.

Repeating the hiring process because of disgruntled employees or those that are not meeting your expectations can cost your business a great deal of money. A high turnover rate can hurt your company financially, but in some cases, of course, terminating an employee is necessary.

Bonnie Schedin, HR profiler and partner, SPHR, HRBP, and Pneuma Advantage, shares how a manager or shop owner can avoid mistakes in the firing process.

As told to Melissa Steinken

Mistake #1: Getting into a messy legal situation.

How to Avoid: Have clear documentation for releasing that employee, with signatures, if possible. I absolutely encourage employers and shop owners to prepare documentation and do an exit interview. 

The employer needs to be clear on defined goals and expectations of the job role for that employee. Upon hire, an employer should have the employee read expectations, document and sign that they read them and understood them. During the exit interview, document why the employee didn't work out so you don't repeat that system in future hiring.

Mistake #2: Refusing to look at the business workflow before firing the employee.

How to Avoid: You need to look at the workflow of that day or your business week that you're planning do the firing on, because your business will take a hit. I recommend firing the employee first thing Monday morning. Use the rest of the week productively to plan your next hire and to release that person to find a job that is a better fit for them as well.

I use the phrase, "hire slow, fire fast" for a good reason. Hanging onto an employee who is making unhealthy choices for your business is going to suck the life out of it. Let the employee finish a task until someone else on the team can transition into it. 

Mistake #3: Not coming prepared to the meeting.

How to avoid: What the owner or manager says in the meeting depends on the reason for firing the employee. If you can't get a signature that they understand why they're being let go during that time, document it in your notes. 

The employees can request their employee file so ensure you have a copy on hand. If the employee is being fired for theft, lying or harming the company financially, they should be escorted off the property with a witness. If the employee is agitated or angry, they should be asked to leave the building to calm down and then you should fire or release them later. Never respond to anger.

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