Learn what to do before, during, and after the termination.
There are many wonderful things about being a female founder.
You get to build a team, influence your company’s trajectory, and empower employees to carry out your vision. Each of these experiences make entrepreneurship incredibly rewarding, but they don’t come without downsides.
Arguably the hardest part of holding a leadership position is firing an employee.
Being the one to deliver bad news to a teammate can be extremely difficult. And though it may never be painless, there’s a right way to do it that minimizes pain on both ends.
Odds are you’re going to fire someone someday (if you haven’t already), so start exploring best practices and view it as a learning opportunity. Handle it well, and you may just earn more respect from your team while becoming a more well-rounded leader.
How to know it’s time to fire someone
Before carrying out a termination, ensure it’s the appropriate course of action.
Whether there’s been a series of blunders or a single bad moment to point to, you may be on the fence about whether you’ve got a fireable offense on hand. If you’re contemplating firing someone, consult your human resources team. They’re there to support you in these kinds of moments and they can guide you through the touchy process, which is riddled with legalities. Your HR team is aware of the pertinent legal aspects at hand and can ensure a legally sound course of action that protects you, the employee, and the company.
Some fireable offenses include, but aren’t limited to:
- Not showing up to work
- Being consistently late to work
- Poor performance
- Dishonesty of any kind
- Egregious misconduct and breaking company rules
Once you (and HR) have determined that firing an employee is the appropriate response, it’s time to take action.
4 steps to fire someone
Terminating someone isn’t as simple as breaking the news and going on with your day; It’s a multi-step process.
1. Make a plan
Firing an employee is not something you want to do off the cuff. Start by devising a plan that outlines when and where you’ll do it.
Some leaders wait until they have a replacement in the pipeline, whether through internal succession or external recruitment. Others carry out the termination and begin searching for a replacement afterward.
You also want to consider where you’ll have the conversation. Though it may make the delivery easier on your end, don’t break the news over an email, a text, or even a phone call. Out of respect for the person on the receiving end, hold your meeting face to face. If you’re in the office, book a meeting room for privacy. But if possible, a video call is the best option here, as it allows for a clean-cut exit.
You should also consider having an HR team member join the meeting to answer any logistical questions the employee may have.
2. Practice breaking the news
Once you plan when and where you’ll hold your meeting, think about what you’re going to say. This is something you want to determine ahead of time since it’s easy to forget important points in the heat of the moment.
When it comes to important details pertaining to benefits, severance, and equipment returns, be sure to cover those topics during the call and answer any questions they may have. If you have an HR representative join the meeting, they can take over and explain those details after you break the news. In which case, you may exit once you’re done saying your part.
Think about the points you want to make and write them down. Instead of writing a script, use your list of points as a conversational outline.
3. Execute on your plans
Once your meeting starts, get right to the point. Be direct and firm when you deliver the news. It’s not uncommon for employees to experience a range of negative emotions and while some will remain stoic, others might react more expressively. Hear them out if they have something to say, but stick to your outline as best you can.
Be gracious and respectful, and thank them for their contributions. If you’re up for it, you can also offer to be a resource in their job search.
4. Tell the rest of your team
Breaking the news to your team is nearly as hard as breaking the news to the person being fired. Gossip can travel quickly so nip any speculations or rumors in the bud and let them hear it from you first.
Set a brief team meeting as soon after the termination as possible and be direct. After telling them their teammate was terminated, they may feel worried about their own fate. Put their worries at ease by reassuring them that they’re doing a good job and open the floor to questions.
If handled well, you can strengthen your connections with your remaining team and they may have more respect for you because of it.
After you go through your first firing, it’s important to infuse your learnings into your hiring mindset. Most people you hire will part ways with your company at one point or another, whether on good terms or not. Think of new teammates as people who have the potential to change and evolve. Talent acquisition isn’t about finding someone who’ll be a good fit until the end of time; It’s about finding someone who’s a great fit right now and who shows promising potential to thrive alongside you for years to come. No selection process is foolproof and the sooner you accept that truth, the better off you’ll be.
Turn this lemon into a learning opportunity
Firing a teammate is not a job responsibility anyone excitedly signs up for. But virtually every founder finds themselves in this position at one point or another, so keep these tips in your back pocket and rest assured you’ll become a stronger leader because of it.
As a female founder, the well-being of you, your business, and your finances are all critical. I encourage you to book a call today and talk to our financial experts about how you can achieve success in your journey.