Firing employees presents certain difficulties to managers and the business in general. It’s usually the hardest part of the working process. No task or business problem is as emotionally charged and as important fr om a team health perspective as the firing process.
Let’s admit it - no one likes to fire people. After all, we are social creatures and maintaining well-balanced relationships is part of our nature. This is especially true for startups and small businesses because in a small team everyone knows each other all too well. But you didn’t start a business to see it being destroyed by an underperforming employee. Knowing how to fire employees is a leadership skill that you need to master if you want to see your business succeed. There are two aspects you need to take care of when firing someone: administrative, in other words, relating to procedures that are dictated by the company’s policy and law, and a relational aspect, that concerns people and their relationships. Let’s review them in detail:
From a business perspective, a firing process is similar to all other internal company processes. It can be improved, optimized and documented. Managers rarely struggle with this part of firing, because once you document the process, you can follow a clear streamlined step-by-step plan that doesn’t allow for interpretations or doubts. Administrative processes ensure that rational thinking prevails and business’s interests are protected. Yet, there are a plethora of real-life cases wh ere company policies failed their creators.
So here are some tips to minimize your legal and business risks:
- Involve HR Leaders are often taught how to fire people, but firing isn’t their primary function. Leaders are there to lead, inspire, empower and provide guidance. So it’s only natural for you to feel a bit intimidated by the firing process. What’s the best way to deal with it? Involve an expert. The only person who probably has the best education and background to handle complicated firing matters is an HR. Your HR person will give you the necessary guidance on legal implications and take some emotional burden off your shoulders.
- Document everything When it comes to firing, put aside your right brain and focus on what your rational mind is telling you. Even though face-to-face communication is vital for both the employer and the employee, it’s very hard to predict how things might turn out. You want to keep all the records, emails and notes in a written form. Anything that is not written on a piece of paper doesn’t exist. Don’t get stressed over the idea of the case ending up in court, but always be ready if it does.
If performance was the main reason for firing, then a list of incomplete tasks in Bitrix24 can justify the reason for your decision. Additionally, this feature will make the transitioning process smoother for the team and the new employee.
- Have a shared file system in place It’s tempting to simplify life for your employees and allow them to use personal portative drives or cloud spaces. But this solution is very short-sighted, as data dispersed across multiple devices complicates new employee hiring and training process, and makes your business vulnerable to the risk of security breach.
It’s a common standard these days to keep a shared file system. A shared system makes communication and transfer of knowledge easier and gives you a peace of mind for the times when you don’t have access to a certain employee. You can set up a rule, that will prompt employees to keep their working documents on the company’s drives.
- Restrict access We think that a talk with an employee and their subsequent leave of the building is the last step in the arduous firing process, but in fact, it’s only the beginning. The state of technology these days allows us to access information from the farthest corners of the Earth. And this presents a risk of an unauthorized access.
Once you have a talk with your employee, you have to make sure they no longer have access to the shared system and the company’s archives. This feature is available in Bitrix24.
- Plan ahead and automate the process So you have to fire an employee and fear that you might forget something? There is no need for long to-do lists. There are more effective solutions that will make the firing process a breeze. Just like you can automate the project management process, you can also automate your firing process. This can achieved through setting up the right business workflow process in Bitrix24.
Now that you’re aware of the administrative part of the process, here are some tips to help you with the relational part:
- Make sure you’ve done your best As an employer, you need to understand that it’s not you who is making the decision, it’s your employee’s performance. If you have done everything on your part to try to improve the performance and there were no obvious results, it means that your employee wasn’t interested or simply was hired for the wrong job.
- Act swiftly and be direct Managers often regret postponing the decision but are happy when they act swiftly. This doesn’t mean what you have to fire as fast as possible. You still need the trace of documents and communication in place before the actual talk. But mulling over the perspective of firing someone will take a toll on your performance as a leader and can damage your team performance.
- Be compassionate Getting fired is a dreadful experience for employees. It’s not easy to face the prospect of a jobless future. It’s also incredibly traumatizing to share the news with the family and friends. So put yourself in the employee’s shoes and try to imagine how you’d want to be treated if you were in the same situation. Show them that you care and it’s not just a task you want to tick off your list. Also, if the reason for firing isn’t the employee’s performance but the wrong job fit, offer to write recommendation letters or provide referrals.
- Remain calm, cool and collected Firing someone is an emotionally draining experience, but you don’t want it to affect your business. It’s okay to ruminate over the process for a day or two, but make sure the guilt doesn't override your passion for business. Keep a balance between feeling for someone and maintaining a clear business-driven perspective.
When we have to let go of a person, we’re bound to feel bad and guilty. These feelings, however burdensome they might feel, point out at you being a good manager. There are plenty of managers who don’t feel compassion for their team members, and people don’t want to work for them. There are also those who care for the happiness of others too much and jeopardize the future of their companies. True leaders can focus on both what’s best for their business and what makes employees happy.
Bitrix24 is a free HRIS solution with over 25 HR tools, such as private social network, absence chart, shared calendars, document management, resume storage, employee portal, leave requests, employee workload planning, tasks and project management, to name a few. Use promo code TIP10 when registering your free Bitrix24 account to get extra 10GB.