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Tips for firing gently


If you have ever had to fire an individual you know how difficult it can be. You really are dealing with people's livelihoods in many cases and that is a responsibility that is to be taken very seriously. If you are in the unfortunate position of having to deliver the bad news to your employees, you probably want to do so in the gentlest way possible right? Here are just a few tips that may help you to do just that the next time that you have to be the bearer of bad news.

Do so privately

Firing an individual is no doubt traumatic for that worker. Even if they knew that it was coming, being fired can be embarrassing, stressful, worrisome, and even despairing. Firing an employee in private not only shows respect to the employee but also provides them with a setting in which you can discuss the decision that has been made in detail without fear of what other workers may think.

Give warning

Layoffs are perhaps the most difficult form of firing because they can come without warning. One day you may have a perfectly satisfactory worker and the next you may be told to choose 20 workers to lay off. If you are not in the situation where you need to lay off employees, make sure that you have built a case for yourself and the decision to fire an individual. When it comes time to fire an individual, they really should not be surprised. In other words, they should be given warnings, opportunities for improvement, evaluations, etc. so that they have a good idea of where they stand in the company. It is also wise to give warning to trouble employees in front of other employees when appropriate. This helps to avert the common problem of employee revolt when one of their own is fired. If they see that you have given the employee ample time to improve, they will generally be less critical of your decision to fire that individual.

Watch your tone

Your tone and body language can speak much louder than any words that you choose to use. This is a delicate time for your employee and you can never be sure how they will react to bad news. Make sure that your body language says that you are aware of the implications of firing this employee and that you are sorry for the negative effects that may result, however, make it clear that you have evidence to support your decision that is irrefutable. You don't need to use a big booming voice to show your authority. Sometimes exerting control through more subtle means is actually more effective.

Ask for another manager to sit-in

Sometimes there comes the need to fire a more volatile employee that may cause you as a manager to be even more apprehensive about your responsibility. If you ever question your ability to handle an individual on a one-on-one basis or you feel like your method for firing individuals could use improvement, ask for another manager or someone of equal authority to sit-in with you as you talk to the employee. Many of us are better able to handle our emotions and reactions when there is someone else watching what we are doing. It is much more difficult to be accused of wrongful treatment when firing someone if there is another manager in the room who can validate your story. Use this other individual only as a support structure and avoid deferring to the other individual as much as possible. You do not want your employee feeling "ganged-up on."

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