ll archives: How to Fire an Employee

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Sitting someone down and telling them that they no longer have a job is one of the most difficult things you will do as a business owner. However, having an employee on staff who is not performing can be toxic to your business. Not only are they unproductive and typically costing you money, but their apathetic nature can bring morale down which can lead to more problems. Depending on what state you live in, firing someone can be easy or hard. Here in Georgia, we are an Employment at Will state which means that employment can be terminated at any moment with or without reason. That being said, I still find that it’s always best to have a structured method for terminating an employee.

Document Performance

This goes for all employees, but especially one that you are considering terminating. Even though your state might be a right-to-fire state, terminated employees may react emotionally. Protect yourself from any potential unemployment or Wrongful Termination claims by documenting poor performance.

Set a Timeline

Once you start to notice poor performance, it is important that you sit down with the employee to share your concerns. Be clear on your expectations, the consequences should things not change and set a timeline for improvement. 30 days is usually a good amount of time. I like to write this plan down and have both myself and the employee sign it. I then place that document in the employee’s file.

Plan for the Worst

After you’ve had a conversation with the employee and given them a timeline for improvement, start looking for their replacement immediately. You want to be prepared should their performance not improve so that termination doesn’t affect your business more than necessary.

Be Swift and Non-Specific

When you decide to fire an employee, do it early in the day, early in the week and don’t get into specifics as to why. At this point, there is no reason to re-hash what you have already discussed and it will only make the entire situation more uncomfortable. Have Kleenex nearby and stand your ground. People will often throw others under-the-bus or try and bait you into a back-and-forth. Let them know that your decision is final and give them directives as to the next steps.

Communicate to Remaining Staff

Again, now is not the time for specifics. Let your remaining staff members know that “Employee X” is no longer part of the team and if you plan to fill their position or redistribute their workload.

Even though it’s hard, it is a necessary task that you will face at some point as a business owner. The most important thing to remember is that your top concern is your business. Anything that is not adding something positive to your business needs to be eliminated.