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BUSINESS: PERSONNEL POINTERS

HOW TO FIRE STAFF

A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO TERMINATING EMPLOYMENT PROPERLY

MANAGERS AND owners have told me firing an employee is one of the most difficult tasks they have had to perform in their careers. Dreading the task is normal; so is keeping a bad employee too long. But, there are some steps you can put in place to make termination a bit easier:

1 PROVIDE A CLEAR JOB DESCRIPTION

When an employee starts, ensure you onboard him with a well-written, thought-out job description of the roles, responsibilities and expectations. Refer to it when you need to support your comments on his performance.

Additionally, when on-boarding, let the employee know whether he is under a probationary period to start and what this entails. For example, your practice may have a six-month probationary period, after which you will sit to review and ensure all needs are met.

2 KEEP AN UP-TO-DATE HANDBOOK

An employee handbook provides direction to employees on policies and procedures in your business, from sick leave to the dress code. It also covers you, should you run into non-compliance to an outlined policy or rule.

3 COMMUNICATE GOALS AND PERFORMANCE NEEDS

Set specific and clear individual and team goals, so the employee is aware of the targets expected of him, and then perform regular monthly or quarterly check ins. If you see a performance indicator is not up-to-standard, address it.

4 DOCUMENT DISCIPLINE

If an employee is not reaching set targets or acting in a way that requires a firm conversation, take the opportunity to document it. Have the dates and a space for the employee to sign, showing he has received the information and acknowledged it. At this stage, and when an employee has received this type of attention, he either changes or leaves the position. Both options being what you want.

5 TERMINATE

If, after all this, it is clear you still need to terminate, start by preparing documentation you require. (See No. 4 and the first point below.) If the probation period is over and you are not sure about the legalities of termination, seek professional advice from a human resource expert or employment lawyer.

  • Prepare termination documentation, which should include severance and the last day of employment.
  • Plan a time to fire the employee that will be the least disruptive to the work day and your team. (First thing in the morning, before the practice opens, is often best.)
  • Bring in another member of the team to act as a witness, if needed.
  • Prepare what to say. Stay calm, and be empathetic.
  • Keep it private, and do it as quickly as possible.
  • Refrain from expanding on the reason(s). Simply say, “Things are not working out.”
  • Walk him to the door. (Either have his belongings ready, or offer to courier them to his home.)
  • Let him know when he will receive his last pay check, if it is not already prepared. OM

Laws differ from state-to-state. Please ensure your practices are within the laws of your practice location by seeking professional advice of a human resource expert or employment lawyer.