Business Etiquette- Employee Layoff and Termination
What's the Best Way to Terminate an Employee?
Dear April Masini,
Due to a drop in sales, I need to let five people at my company go. We're not firing any of them with ill will or because we're angry, but rather out of financial necessity. To complicate things, one of them has been at the company for a couple of years and she and I have become close personal friends."
I am the person who is going to have to carry out these terminations. How do I do it in the kindest and most effective way possible, especially when it comes to my friend?
Between a Rock and a Hard Place
April Masini's Advice :
Dear Between a Rock and a Hard Place,
Firing people is difficult, but it can be done humanely.
Tips for Firing Employees
- Do be frank, direct and honest about firings. If the firing is about company cut backs, let the employee who is being fired know that this has nothing to do with them personally, or their job performance. If it is about their job performance, let them know that their performance was not up to standards for this particular company.
- Do not demoralize a person beyond what you are firing them for. Do not tell them they'll never work in this industry again. Do not tell them they're stupid or bad at what the do. Keep it clear -- that the job they did in this instance did not meet the standards of the company.
- Do give employees two weeks notice. Unless they've committed a crime, you need to allow them two weeks to absorb the shock and transition out of their job. It's called closure and respect.
- Do not expect normal work from them during the two weeks before they leave. They will do their best -- if they can -- and if they can't, they won't. Don't heap new projects or work or extra hours on them. In fact, if you can, lighten their load during this time.
Firing a Friend
- Keep communication clear. It is not always possible to keep communication open because as your friend's employer, there may be things you know and have to handle at work that you cannot tell your employees -- including your friend. Make this dynamic clear.
- Take a break from social situations where your friend will be. Don't pretend that you want to talk about work every time you see your friend. Tell him or her that you would like to just enjoy the social situation that you are both attending, and not talk work. If this doesn't work out, take a night off from a social situation -- or go elsewhere where your friend will not be.
- Stay neutral as much as possible. Nepotism doesn't just happen with family members. Friends count, too. Keep your perspective.