In our last post, we provided 4 tips for hiring new employees for your Ventura County small business. As we mentioned in that post, whenever your business takes that first step into hiring more employees, it may be inevitable that you will have to fire an employee at some point. While this is obviously never anyone’s intention starting out, the reality is that things do not always work out the way we would like. If/when you get to the point where someone is not working out and you are thinking about letting them go, below are 5 tips that will hopefully aid you in the process.
This is actually something that should be done shortly after you hire a new employee. But if it wasn’t done in the first place, this is something that you are going to want to do sooner rather than later. Establishing metrics will give you empirical data on which to base your decision on. The metrics you decide on will depend on the positions you hire for, but some simple examples can be hours worked or assigned tasks completed. Once these metrics are established, it will be easier to see if your employee is meeting the standards both of you agreed upon. And if the person isn’t meeting them, you will be able to have some evidence backing your decision. Since these metrics were communicated and agreed upon at an earlier point in time, the employee should have no reason to act surprised when you tell them that they are not meeting expectations.
Sooner is Better than Later
There is a saying that if you are thinking about firing a person, that probably means that you should fire that person. As I mentioned in our previous post, I believe that communication is an important part in an employer/employee relationship and that there should be open dialog well before it gets to the point of letting someone go. You should do your best to talk to the employee about what you expect from them and how they are not meeting those expectations. Not only will this give them a chance to improve their behavior, but it will also let them know that you are serious about letting them go if you have to. If you have had these conversations several times and their behavior is not improving, you should not wait much longer to fire this person. There are only so many chances you can give a person and the longer you wait the more it can harm your business. You are not doing yourself or the employee any good by delaying the inevitable, so do yourself a favor and get it done as soon as you start to think it is time.
For most people, firing an employee is not an easy thing. If this is true in your case, you should take some time before firing the employee to prepare yourself. Having some idea of what you are going to say beforehand should make it easier to get through the process. You should also prepare yourself mentally and emotionally and be prepared to expect the unexpected. Depending on how long and closely you worked with this person, you might have some idea of their demeanor and how they handle themselves. However, you never know how someone will act in a potentially stressful situation. Some experts even suggest that you schedule some time directly afterwards to either go somewhere and relax or talk over the situation with a mentor or other business owner that you are comfortable with.
Control the Process
Once you decide that you need to let this person go, your goal should be to control the remainder of the process to the best of your ability. This means that you want to be in control from the time that you tell the employee that you need to talk until the actual firing is complete. If you prepared yourself correctly beforehand, this will go a long way in controlling the rest of the process. By control, we mean that you want to determine the location of the meeting, set the tone that you want to use, and make sure that the discussion does not get sidetracked or go off on a tangent. The employee may try to use this time to convince you that they need another chance, but remember, you gave them previous opportunities to correct their behavior. Of course things will not go exactly as you wish, but at least you can control those things that are within your power.
Above all else, you want to conduct yourself like the professional you are. Remember that you are a business owner and an entrepreneur and that you should always come across as such. There is no need to be disrespectful or insulting when letting someone go. Even if the employee loses their temper and is disrespectful towards you, try and keep an even keel and get through the process. Keeping the mood as positive as possible might go a long way in preventing any mishaps. You obviously don’t want to lie to the person and give them a false impression, but there is nothing wrong with wishing them luck in their future endeavors. The person that you are firing is a human being and deserves to be treated with respect. Just because they did not work out with you does not mean that there are no other jobs that they can be successful in.