Getting fired is always a horrible and awkward experience, there are few feelings worse in life than being rejected by people who found that you simply weren’t good enough. And unless the person giving the bad news is particularly sadistic it can be very difficult for them too; what kind of person enjoys looking someone in the eye and telling them that they are now unemployed?
But business is business, and there is little place for sentimentality in this dog-eat-dog world. So the boss needs to do the right thing – take the doomed employee to one side and respectfully and professionally tell it as it is.
Image credits: Robin Hastings (not the actual photo)
Some bosses can’t hack it though. They might feel guilty for treating the employee unfairly, or maybe they had developed such a good relationship that this might feel like a horrible way to end it. Or perhaps they are just spineless cowards who don’t like to experience the consequences of their decisions.
So when this anonymous employee took to Quora looking for advice on how to deal with a boss who fired them via email, they found sympathy with the occasional hilarious and often savage response.
Some people, on the other hand, thought that the method of communication is irrelevant, it is only the message that counts.
The conversation divided people, with some expressing the desire for revenge while others urged for restraint and to remain the ‘bigger person.’
So how do you fire someone respectfully and ethically? Mike Kappel from Forbes has some tips on how to do it the right way.
“When you meet with an employee to tell them they are being fired, you need to tell them as soon as the meeting starts,” Mike writes. “If you were getting fired, you wouldn’t want to talk about the weather or last night’s football game before hearing the news. Answer any questions relating to the employee’s last paycheck, collecting unemployment benefits, and health insurance.”
As well as being clear and honest with the employee, it is important to do it discretely as not to humiliate the employee. Employment termination isn’t just bad for that individual— it’s also bad for the other employees.
“Other employees don’t know if or when they’re going to be on the chopping block. And, your employees could have relationships with the fired employee,” he continues. “If you fire an employee in front of everyone, you risk draining the morale out of the other employees.”
“Consider firing the employee after your other employees leave. That way, the terminated employee does not need to leave your office (or wherever you fire them) in front of their co-workers.”
Finally, you want to be completely sure that your actions in terminating the employee’s contract are fully legal. “Did you have your employee sign a contract when you hired them?” Mike asks. “If not, they are employed at-will, meaning you can terminate their employment at any time. Don’t fire an employee as an act of discrimination. And, you can’t fire an employee for taking medical leave. You might want to consult a lawyer before you fire an employee.”
“If your employee has a contract with your business, you cannot fire them for reasons not listed in the contract. The contract should state reasons you can end a worker’s employment at your business. If they don’t violate the listed reasons, don’t break the contract.”
All pretty common sense stuff really isn’t it? But we all know plenty of bosses that are lacking in that! Don’t make it any harder for yourself than it already is!