Firing people is nothing nice – for both sides. Although I was never dismissed I can easily imagine what laid off person feels then. I was few times on the other side, firing people and I can tell it’s an extremely hard task for me. No matter how strongly I’m convinced to terminate contract I always feel like I had a hangover when the thing is done.
However there’re some things which can make dismissing a bit smoother.
• Try retraining. If you accept to keep working with the person (that’s not always true) try to find her different position. Maybe she’ll fulfill new tasks better. I remember a situation when a person, who was underperforming while being in support team, became great consultant in the implementation team.
• Allow employee to resign. It always looks better when you resign instead of being fired. You don’t need to ruin guy’s resume. His colleagues will also feel better, at least if he wasn’t highly toxic.
• Tell about dismissal in advance. Sometimes the person tries hard but just doesn’t suit to a position. If you trust her a bit, tell her you’re going to fire her when you find a better candidate. You risk her commitment will peak down but you give her a time to look for a new job with lower stress. She’s not fired yet.
• Don’t fire. Nice advice in “how to lay off” list, isn’t it? If you can allow yourself to keep a guy for few months more it’s sometimes a good idea to wait for him until he resigns. With decreased role in the team, low bonus money there’re high chances that he’ll eventually leave. I know some cases which worked that way. Some of them done intentionally, some unintentionally.
• Explain why you do that. Always. Face to face. It’s so obvious but sometimes is forgotten. Be well prepared – don’t treat that meeting as an unpleasant duty. She deserves that.
• Sweeten the situation. Play into fired person’s hand with things like leave, working hours etc.
• Pay some bonus money at the end. Companies are very often tempted not to pay any additional money to people who are fired. Yes, you can save few hundred bucks. But for that bunch of dollars you can earn not only a small improvement in laid off person’s morale, but also improvement of your reputation on the labor market. Besides that if the guy wasn’t fired you’d probably pay him small bonus, wouldn’t you? Don’t be a cheapskate here.
• Agree to confidentiality. If dismissed person asks you not to announce the decision right away – agree. That’s another thing which costs you nothing.
Unless Catbert is you personal hero, you can try to make dismissal a bit more pleasant. It pays off because you don’t burn your boats and you earn your reputation as good employer. The latter is especially important now when it’s hard to find great employees in IT because of big demand for workforce.
What are your methods to keep this unpleasant task more pleasant?