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Firing Someone? Here are Five Questions for You

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!

The Art of Firing – What’s the Best Way?

The Art of Firing – What’s the Best Way?

A few weeks ago, the internet was breaking with how Tech Mahindra fired an employee- without sound reason, without even having a one on one. A leaked audio of the HR Firing an employee brought the issue to the forefront. The matter escalated to such an extent that Anand Mahindra, Executive Chairman of the company, had to tender an apology which read, “I want to add my personal apology. Our core value is to preserve the dignity of the individual and we’ll ensure this does not happen in future,”.

It is true that letting someone go, moreover, having to be the one to communicate that decision, is far from easy. However, doing it in a dignified manner is crucial for the person in question, and even more so for your organisation. How you deal with your employees in times of crises reflects on what values your organisation embodies. We write this post for every person who has the capacity of making, and/or implementing the decision of firing an employee within an organisation. So, how do you fire someone while making sure his/her ‘dignity’ is not violated? Read on to know how.

  1. Know your Reasons

    Your job is half done when you understand and get to the root of why you are having to let go of the person concerned. Understand the reasons for the decision made to be able to articulate yourself clearly. Is it performance related? Is it because of behavioral or ethical reasons? Keep the required evidence handy to be able to support your conversation/ decision, if required. Doing this also helps you be firm while you are communicating the decision.

  2. Rehearse it

    Firing someone is much harder than hiring someone. It needs to be done with sensitivity and dignity. It also needs to be done with conviction. Rehearse what you would want to tell the employee concerned before having the actual conversation. This will help you preempt certain responses you would otherwise have been at a loss for. Playing out the conversation aloud, helps you prepare well for the real one.

  3. Time it right

    Timing is a key element for this job. Never hold this meeting at the beginning of the day – it upsets the productivity of both you and the employee concerned. As for the duration of the meeting, it should by no means stretch beyond fifteen minutes. Anything beyond that duration of time allows for things to get messy. While you have to be patient, you also need to be effective in your communication, and quick. Tough combination to achieve, but then, this is really your job!

  4. Follow a process

    Be fair when you fire someone and follow a standard operating procedure, just like you do while hiring someone. Have all the documentation ready, including a letter of experience and a termination letter. Hold the meeting when you have in paper all the settlements you would have to make for the employee concerned. It is also important to allow a reasonable notice period to the employee, so he may look for another job.

  5. Be kind

    The action in question, and kindness definitely don’t go together. However, it is still possible to deliver this job in a kind, considerate and dignified manner. The only way you can do this job well, and yet be kind is by being detached from the whole situation. Just enough to know that it is not YOUR fault the person in front of you is losing his/her job, at the same time it is sad for the employee and therefore you must be polite, kind and treat the individual with dignity. Being detached will also help you stay calm in case things start to get ugly, because you don’t take it personally. That way, you will by default take the higher road.

Ace businesswoman Mary Barra, says it best

My advice on firing is simple: Treat that person the same way you’d want to be treated if you were in that situation. They’re still a good person, just not the right fit. So how do you help them move on in a productive way that allows them to maintain their dignity?

Ever fired anyone? Tell us what you got wrong, or what you got right. Been at the receiving end of it? Tell us how you feel you would’ve done it differently!