A Step-by-Step Guide for Firing Poorly Performing Employees

Performance Management A Step-by-Step Guide for Firing Poorly Performing Employees

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Unfortunately, sometimes hires just don’t work out. Letting poor fit employees go can be extremely difficult and emotionally challenging.

This article discusses the steps of firing and we offer several tips for firing an employee correctly.

When Is It Time to Fire an Employee?

Look for ways to avoid firing first. Address performance issues early on (or have their direct supervisors do so). Offer reasonable levels of training and make suggestions to help them improve. Most importantly quantify and objectively describe how the poor performance is affecting their success within your organization. Clearly define the measurable performance expectations of the role and frame the attitude related expectations objectively.

Create clear defined time lines for reevaluating performance and attitude issues. This is often called a performance improvement program or a PIP.

There are some cases where you will almost certainly fire an employee. Someone who is stealing money or threatening a coworker is quite different from someone who has an intermittent punctuality problem. Some performance issues can be corrected by clarifying expectations in measurable and objective terms.

Always keep a record of these discussions about performance, avoid arguments and any subjective evaluations by either sides.

Here are 6 Tips that can Smooth Out the Process:

  1. Consider logistics. When will you do it? Who will be there? Where is “there”? Do you have relevant documents on hand? Many experts advise firing in the middle of the week and in a neutral location, such as a conference room.
  2. Be 100% certain of your decision and be ready to defend it. Be sure firing is the correct decision. Give yourself plenty of time to think things over. Be fair, but once you’ve decided, be firm.
  3. Have potential helpers available. If you are not required to have other people with you in the room, have someone ready nearby anyway. They can help you if the situation gets difficult. You may want to invite someone else for the sake of legal protection.
  4. Think about what you’re going to tell them. Plan an intro. Simple is best. Most people will accept the decision, but they may want to talk. Let them, but be clear that your decision is final. Your only elaboration of you reasons for termination should be scripted. Do not argue or stray from your carefully prepared script.
  5. Be very specific about if, and how, you might help them. If you will not give them a reference, say so. It’s perfectly possible you may be able to give a sincere recommendation – just not for this particular role. Have Cobra, unemployment and career resource center information included in your separation packet so they have everything they need to move on.
  6. Decide on a time limit and ending. Allow time to explain your decision. However, set an upper limit on time. Be ready with next steps and have your final words prepared.

Firing is nearly always difficult, and with good reason. This decision has a huge impact on people’s lives. Consider everything carefully, but then commit to your decision and outline your plan. Whatever you do don’t wait too long to separate from the poor performer they can do more damage inside your organization than redeployed on a more productive career path for them.

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