Firing Someone? Here are Five Questions for You

As a recruiter, or a person in the position of hiring and  firing, the latter is a much tougher decision to make. The ‘art of firing’ is not easy, and it takes skill and knowledge to be able to make an informed and confident decision of firing someone. To fire someone should never be a spontaneous, knee-jerk response to what we consider as a ‘one off’ incident. It is true that sufficient thought is put into the structure of firing someone – there is at least a basic protocol in place in most organisations. However, most of these preparations are geared towards the firing meeting itself.

It is important to understand exactly “why” you are making the decision to fire someone – you owe this to your organisation as well the employee you are firing. Besides preparing this way helps you articulate yourself better, which inevitably makes the process easier. A great way to prepare yourself before you fire someone is by asking/ going over these five questions.

  1. Why am I firing him?

    This is the first question that you will have to tackle, and the first thing that you will have to tell the employee in question about. Knowing “why” you are going ahead with this decision makes the whole meeting a lot easier and quicker, because you are convinced about the main reason for your decision. Not being clear about this particular question in your head is going to have you go round in circles, make the process longer, and maybe even messy. Knowing your reasons will you help you make it quick, effective and efficient.

  2. When should I fire him?

    Just like ending romantic relationships, no matter how long you wait for the “right time” there will never be one. The moment you realize your reason for wanting to let go of the employee, you need to work towards implementing it. This post on Undercover Recruiter says it best:
    “Conventional wisdom says you should fire someone on Friday afternoon or Monday morning. But conventional wisdom is wrong. You should fire someone as soon as you’ve taken the decision and understand every detail of how you’re going to execute it – from the moment you’re telling the employee “you are fired” to the time they leave the office.”
    By detail of execution, they mean everything from an experience letter, to the severance pay check.

  3. How should I fire him?

    There is only one answer to this question – no matter what your reason is for the decision, execute it in the most dignified and kind manner possible.

  4. Is any personal bias influencing the decision?

    In case there is any bias or prejudice involved in the decision to fire the employee concerned, it should come through when you answer the very first question. However, it is not always necessary that the bias/ prejudice or even the reason stated to you would be something you have a deep awareness of. In which case, before executing the decision, do you bit to find out exactly why the employee concerned is being fired, and let any personal bias or prejudice be the very last reason! Remember, you are not just the messenger, your responsibility is a much greater one.

  5. Am I having second thoughts?

    Then halt the decision, and ask yourself all the above questions all over again until you are sure exactly why you are letting go of the employee concerned. A hasty, half-thought through decision can reflect terribly upon the morale of the rest of your employees as well. Remember that the person in question has friends at work, and people will eventually find out. That can’t be healthy for the team in any way.

To fire someone is never easy. But being prepared can make this otherwise emotionally draining process a little easier. It is hard, but at some point or the other you will have to make the decision of letting someone you feel isn’t the right fit for the organisation, go. Being a leader is also about knowing when and how to make these decisions. And preparation can help you do it in a kind, informed yet firm manner!

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