1. Recognize when someone’s time is up.
Any of the following scenarios may indicate that it’s time for an employer to part ways with a staffer:
A formerly productive employee has let his or her performance slip.
An employee is vocal about dissatisfaction with parts of the job or all of it, affecting overall morale.
Organizational changes make an employee’s role unnecessary or redundant.
An employee’s skills are not at the level required for the position and you don’t have the time for needed training or believe it will help.
An employee abuses company policies and privileges by being excessively late, taking too many vacation days or stealing items from the office.
An employee isn’t motivated about developing his or her skills to grow with the company.
2. Prepare for the firing
As soon as you notice one of these signs or other clues, document your concerns. If necessary, gather statements from other employees and make notes about any past conversations you’ve had with the employee about your concerns. Documentation is the key to protecting yourself from a wrongful termination lawsuit.
If you intend to part ways on good terms, you might also want to think about severance benefits. Unless written into your employment offers, severance packages are rarely mandatory but can contribute significantly to an employer’s reputation.
3. Take full responsibility.
If you have to fire an employee, this is usually not the employee’s fault. It’s often yours for making a bad hire. That’s painful to realize, but the sooner you accept it, the sooner you can improve your hiring, onboarding and termination processes (and the sooner you can avoid wasting $50,000 or more on bad hires).
Immediately after the termination, brainstorm about what you can do better the next time. Was there a point in the hiring process when you didn’t trust your gut? Did you fail to do due diligence? This type of self-reflection is rarely fun but it’s an important part of maintaining profitability.