What is the right time and the right way to fire an employee?
Firing an employee is always difficult. You have probably been thinking about it for a while and might even have had some sleepless nights. And you better do it in the right way, and at the right time, otherwise it might cost you a lot of money.
Here are five common reasons why you should fire an employee:
- Bad Behavior is Getting Worse
- Productivity is Down
- Morale is Down
- You’re Getting Customer and Vendor Complaints
Warren Buffet, the multi-billion dollar investment guy, said:
“Lose money for my firm and I will be understanding. Lose a shred of reputation for the firm and I will be ruthless.”
The Ontario Employment Standards Act sets out the rules in great detail and is an excellent protection for both employees and employers. However, it is entirely up to us as employers, to ensure the right paperwork is in place and that you follow the rules, when you decide to pull the trigger.
One of the key documents you need to have in place is an Employment Agreement prepared and signed when you hire someone. I am sure most of you hate paying lawyer’s bills, but this is one essential time when you want to get a qualified lawyer involved to prepare or vet an Employment Agreement. It becomes a matter of: “Spend money on lawyers at the beginning or spend a lot more money later”.
I have fired many people over the years, here are a few quick tips:
- Prepare the paperwork in advance and make sure it is complete.
- Always have a third person in the room when you do the actual firing
- When the employee asks why, and they always do, stay away from giving them the “real reason”. My standard answer to the question is “restructuring”. If necessary keep on repeating the same answer, don’t feel that you must give a different answer.
- Do it at a time when others are not around if possible, like first thing in the morning or at the end of the day. Don’t do it on a Friday or just before X-mas.
- Make sure you ask to get back your keys, your phones and your tools
- Don’t leave the employee alone until you have walked him or her out of the door
- Change all the passwords and security codes your employee had access to immediately.
Do you remember the 2009 movie “Up In The Air” with George Clooney? He flies around 300 days a year firing people as a contractor. I went to New York twice in the past two years for one of our clients to fire people. I can tell you that firing for someone else is somewhat easier than firing for your own company.
The hardest part in the whole process is controlling your own emotions. And you will have to remind yourself throughout the process that it is a business decision.
If you have questions about this topic feel free to ask me about it. There are many important details that I couldn’t include today.