Supervisors encounter many noteworthy difficulties in their managerial tasks. Their subordinates may have issues with productivity, scheduling, consistency, communications, teamwork, continuing education, quality, absenteeism, work ethic, or even hygiene. Even successful managers are only effective because they maximize the efficacy of those around them through a significant investment of time and sincere effort.However, even the smarted, hardest-working, best supervisory personnel of all time have moments when they need to fire someone. This is just a fact of the workplace environment. Sometimes mass lay-offs are required in the aftermath of a corporate downturn, at other times it turns out that a certain hire was a terrible decision, or maybe a much better candidate comes along for a certain position.
Whatever the case may be, firing someone can be difficult, even when necessary, and cause due stress to the person who needs to execute the severance. Although the anxiety on the person about to lose their job may be obvious, what often goes unappreciated is the anxiousness that the firer feels as well. Obviously this is not always the case, and sometimes firing someone is definitely a great move that nobody has any problems with. But whichever situation the instance may fit, it follows that there are a few guidelines to keep in mind for the best way to fire an employee.
The best way to fire an employee, always the most ideal method, is to do so without spreading the knowledge around the office like a bad flu bug. There will usually be murmurs and rumors, of course, but every effort should be made to keep it a matter between supervisor and subordinate. Lay-offs happen, entire departments get slashed, but these should be recognized as occasional unfortunate inevitabilities, not the best practice to strive for.
Despite the ongoing advances of digital technology in order to make work life increasingly efficient, the strictures of etiquette still indicate a personal meeting as more professional, personable, and preferred. Many may embrace the wonders now offered by online, text, status update, e-mail, television, and other means, but the impersonal consequence of such slighting is still not worth it, if given the adequate opportunity otherwise. If possible, the best way to fire an employee is in a private, face-to-face meeting.
The subheading may sound like a paradoxical oxymoron, but there is a shred of truth to strive for. The idea is that an oncoming firing should not be so blatantly broadcast as to be completely expected for weeks, but neither should it come as a 100% shock. Either situation can result in blows in morale to the workforce, through the negativity surrounding the “big bad boss” suddenly letting go of long-loved co-workers, or the doom and gloom casting over the office environment when a round of lay-offs is coldly predicted over the email newsletter. Sensitive communication is key here: Management should be honest and relay shortcomings, such as insufficient revenues or a bloated sales pool, in order to inspire positive action from those who genuinely desire a better corporate status. Then, poor achievers not only had a fair warnings, but may be already be half-ready for the firing to come.
Even when it makes sense, though, a severance can be a sticky situation, and it is integral to know the best way to fire an employee. Aim for a private, personal process, and it may at least go a little smoother. Nobody wants a firing to get ugly, and conscientious employers can avoid such a fate.