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How to fire an ineffective employee without causing discord amongst remaining employees


Firing an employee is difficult. What makes the process even more difficult is the process of damage control that often follows the termination of one employee. Co-workers are generally very loyal to each other. Managers are often viewed as detached from the employees that they are responsible for. When an individual needs to be fired, his co-workers are likely to come to his defense regardless of the manager's argument. Thus it is important to take care of these delicate matters in a way that does not create discord amongst remaining employees.

Remaining employees become upset when one of their own is fired for many reasons. The delinquent employee might fabricate data in order to shed a better light on himself and may tell his co-workers that he does not deserve the poor treatment he is receiving. Or perhaps remaining employees feel that their jobs have been threatened. Of course there are many other reasons why "discord" is not unusual but there are ways that you can manage and minimize the harmful effects that firing an employee might have on the remainder of your team.


Private warning

When it comes to reprimanding an employee on a first or minor offence, it is best to give the employee the benefit of the doubt and the courtesy of a private warning. Embarrassing or making an example of an imperfect employee is not effective management. Frightening employees into submission is generally imprudent. Showing that you respect your employees as equals will generally help down the road if an unhappy employee tried to smudge your character with false accusations.

Increased emphasis on the positive

After reprimanding an employee there needs to be an increased amount of positive feedback, encouragement and kindness shown to that employee. Not only will acting in a supportive matter help to better the employee's performance, but his co-workers will see that you are a reasonable manager and that although you will correct a mistake when it happens you attempt to do so fairly and with respect.

Equal treatment (no hounding)

Many managers decide that it is a good idea to take a trouble employee under their wing, so to speak, and try to give them constant monitoring and correction. Although this type of action may give the manager more peace of mind, it may come across as demeaning to the employee. When you have an ineffective employee, treat that employee the same way that you would treat any other employee. Your employees need to be able to see consistent behavior on your part so that they know what to expect from you and what you expect from them.

Public correction

If an offence is being repeated by multiple members of your team it is appropriate to gather the group together to counsel them as a whole. Let the group know that you are trying to solve a problem by being opened and honest about what you expect to be done. No one is singled out of the group so there is no reason to feel awkward. Yet at the same time you have an opportunity to share clear boundaries for everyone. An employee should never be given his termination notice in the presence of his peers. To do so would be humiliating and disrespectful.

Hold a debriefing

Sometimes despite all of your caution and clarity in explaining consequences of inability to follow directions, there will be some employees who are upset about loosing a friend and co-worker. Although it is not appropriate to give too many specific details about why an ineffective employee was let go. If you feel it is needed you may let them know what they need to set set their minds at ease.

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