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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!