What Do You Do When You Have To Fire Someone?

Letting someone go…

We have all had to do it at some point…terminating an employee. If we are lucky the person is argumentative and constantly disrupts workflow, which makes letting someone go a whole lot easier.  What about those times when the team member is a nice guy?  When a team member legitimately tries his best but just cannot seem to fit in?  What about the time when his general ineptitude is costing the company money?  What do you do when that person is universally loved, because he is so friendly and supportive to the rest of the team?

I know what I do.  First, I lose a bunch of sleep.  Then I try to see the positive things that he/she brings to the company. After I have exhausted all the possibilities, I am left with one decision to make.  I gut-wrenchingly make it. I spend the day just going over in my head what I am going to say over and over again, like a broken record that is skipping.
For Those of You too Young to Remember Records go to this Link
For Those of You too Young to Remember Records go to this Link
Finally, I know the day is here, I explain to another manager what is about to happen and ask him to come in my office and be a witness (you should always have a witness even if it is another employee).  I call him/her into the office and knowing that this is the moment I feared. I speak slowly and clearly, give them a copy of any complaints or dismissal forms that I have generated.  Then after dismissing them, I walk them to their truck or desk and help them gather any personal belongings, then we escort them off the property.  After this is all said and done, I hang my head and in most cases cry.  Yes, I said it, I cry for the team member we have lost. I cry for their failure, and I cry for my own failure of not being able to help them become a successful team member.

I recently had to assist a manager that was about to go through this for himself.  He called the meeting and I was the witness.  When we sat down, I asked, “Are you OK?”.  He replied that he had only slept 2 hours the night before.  You could see the guilt on his face as he spoke to the team member, I watched silently as he fought back tears. He struggled to get the words out while the team member sat there asking “Why?”  After the guy was escorted off the premises, I let the Manager know that I was proud of him, but it did not seem to help much. His guilt was overwhelming.
This is a picture of how I look after firing someone
This is a picture of how I look after firing someone
Firing someone from a job is a powerful and very hurtful thing to have to do.  You feel like you are taking away their livelihood, their future, their ability to support their family.  That is a big deal, and it is an even bigger responsibility. With that being said…You have a greater responsibility to your company, to keep the doors opened and the bills paid. You have the rest of your workers and their families depending on you.

So here are some helpful hints to get you through these tough times.

You will eventually go through this yourself so let me give you a few helpful hints to help you get through the process.

1. RIP off the band-aid- Be clear and concise. Do not stall, you are only prolonging the inevitable.  Do it quickly and apologetically so that both you and the team member can move on.

2. Always have a witness – You must make sure you are protected and not accused of anything after the fact.

3. Provide a dismissal letter – make sure you document the termination in writing

4. Escort them to get their belongings– Make sure they can gather all their belongings, so they do not need to come back.

5. Do not let emotions get the best of you– Once the decision is made, stick to it.

Maybe you will get lucky and never have to let anyone go……. But for rest of us out there remember this “That’s How a Service Ninja Does it!!”