I was just promoted to a management position in a smaller company and I don’t have much experience in handling employees. My boss wants me to fire one of my staff as soon as possible. I’m concerned about how to do this and whether it is the right thing to do. Can you offer some guidance?
–New manager in Ohio
Dear New manager:
You show promising signs by not making a hasty decision and thinking through the possible implications of your actions. So even though your boss has told you to fire someone, talk this over with him or her and discuss the reasoning and implications to the business. Find out why he hasn’t done anything about this up to now. It’s your job now to be a leader, use sound judgment and not be afraid to offer it.
Legal concerns. The number of wrongful termination suits filed by employees is mind boggling. Find out what your company’s employment policy is, whether the employee received warnings, that type of thing. Sometimes small companies don’t have formal disciplinary procedures, so you may want to talk with an employment attorney. You also don’t want to create a bad reputation for your company by being sloppy about how you handle this touchy situation.
New headaches. If you get rid of this person, who will replace him or her? Think through who will handle this person’s workload and a plan for hiring a replacement.
Consider how you and your decision could be viewed by other employees. How will this affect morale and your credibility? Will people start fearing for their jobs? Plan how you’ll handle these concerns that could come up.
If you and your boss decide firing is the best option, prepare for this face-to-face meeting. Plan your words carefully, thoroughly explaining the reason for the termination. Get to the point and include what the employee will get in terms of severance pay and benefits.
There are many other issues you’ll want to cover with your company’s attorney. And eventually you’ll get accustomed to your company’s policies and procedures. The part that’s most difficult is how distasteful this deed is. It’s something you never get comfortable with.