You must do what’s best for your organization and current employees. That must be the priority. But I believe you are also doing what’s best for the dismissed employee.
If you stay in business long enough, you will face tough decisions. This is a fact. But of all the tough decisions you will face, none will be more challenging than those regarding your employees, especially a decision to end someone’s job. These people have families, obligations, hopes, and dreams, and your decision to fire them or lay them off will have a detrimental effect on them. It can be a depressing and unfortunate situation, at least to me — and I hope for you, too. If you can easily and routinely terminate someone, check your pulse to see if you’re still a warm, compassionate human being. This is a hard decision. It should be hard. I don’t ever want it NOT to be hard. If it ever gets easy, I will worry about myself, my humanity.
And because this is a tough decision, the temptation is to put it off — to delay the decision or even avoid it. This helps no one; not you, not the employee, nor the organization — no one. Chuck Swindoll once said, “The habit of always putting off an experience until you can afford it, or until the time is right, or until you know how to do it is one of the greatest burglars of joy. Be deliberate, but once you’ve made up your mind -jump in.” I’ve seen managers delay these decisions, and they are miserable. When they finally do it, they are so relieved. If you’ve made your decision, why wait?
How Do I Know When To Dismiss An Employee?
It almost goes without saying that if this employee has a belligerent attitude, shows no willingness to change, or has committed an offense of any kind, you must take immediate steps to dismiss them. But assuming the conditions for obvious dismissal do not exist, you might be asking yourself how to know when it’s time to fire someone? The answer is situationally dependent, but consider this: the fact that you are asking yourself this question might be a hint that you know the answer — the time may be now. Other indicators that it might be time are:
1. After repeated counseling and performance reviews, the employee has not improved to an acceptable level. Moreover, even if this employee has shown a good attitude and willingness to improve, if the improvements do not materialize, you still must act.
2. The decrease in productivity is forcing other employees to do extra work beyond their regular duties, mostly carrying the employee in question. Not only is this costly, but often can lead to feelings of resentment from the others, which can be very disruptive to the work environment.
How Do I Dismiss Them?
I am a BIG believer in personal, face-to-face meetings with the employee you intend to dismiss. I’ve seen employers dismiss employees with a letter, an email, a phone call — all of which I disagree with. Everyone deserves the respect and dignity of a personal, private delivery of the news. Sit down with them. Don’t waste their time with idle chit chat. Get politely to the point and explain your decision. The meeting need not take long. Five or ten minutes would seem about right, assuming there are no issues to be discussed. I would suggest that if you believe the meeting will be difficult, ask another manager to join you as a witness and to offer support for your decision. I also think any real boss will do these kinds of tasks him or herself and not delegate this responsibility. Show some leadership.
New Beginnings Often Begin With An Ending
I couldn’t tell you the number of times I’ve dismissed someone and later learned that they found a better situation for themselves. If I hadn’t dismissed them, they would not have improved their situation. For something new to begin, often something else has to end. This is life. Endings are a part of life. I understand they will not appreciate this fact the day you dismiss them, but I tell you this for your encouragement. It’s still a tough thing to do, but consider that you may be doing them the biggest favor by forcing them to reconsider their futures, to get back out in the job market, and open up their lives to other opportunities.
You must do what’s best for your organization and all the current employees. That must be the priority. But I believe you are also doing what’s best for the dismissed employee.
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