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How to fire an employee without crushing their soul

In the world of work, few things strike terror into the hearts of employees more so than being fired. Similarly, for those charged with the responsibility, the action of firing an individual for performance related issues is often equally dreaded. Many companies enact the well-known and humiliating protocol of walking employees out with their belongings in a banker’s box, parading them past former colleagues like doomed prisoners headed to the gallows. The justification for this remains “security” – companies need to ensure that former employees don’t retaliate. But is this really necessary? When it’s time to say goodbye to an employee who doesn’t work for the firm, could there be a kinder, gentler way?

Regardless of the reason for departure, whether exited for poor performance or due to a restructuring, here are three elements to consider if you want to terminate an employee’s employment without crushing their soul.

1. Line up some new opportunities – Outplacement services

Except in rare cases, most employees who are fired have little trouble finding a job elsewhere. This said, consider setting up some opportunities for the employee in question prior to their exit. Use your networks to create some real leads for the employee to pursue. You may ask, how can I endorse a person I am firing? The answer is, the employee simply doesn’t fit your organization; other firms may embrace him or her wholeheartedly.

You can also use outplacement services. Outplacement services are the assistance an employer can provide to those employees affected by a layoff. Outplacement services can range from employee counseling and career guidance to resume writing, job placement help, job fair events and more.

It makes the career transition easier for laid off employees and they help the employer do the right thing for displaced employees. If outplacement services are being provided, it can be very helpful to have it set up immediately following the notification. It will help diffuse unproductive behavior, manage risk and provide the individual with an opportunity to deal with feelings in a productive way.

2. Place the employee on a flexible work schedule

Oftentimes, employees are not necessarily fired because they lack job skills or competence, but simply people skills or they just don’t fit. During the notice period, organize the employee’s work so that he or she can spend only one day a week in the office and the rest at home. In some cases, this action will give him or her enough time to secure a new position in another company without the added pressure of an uncomfortable work environment.

3. Give the employee three months to find a new position

In addition to a flexible work schedule, consider placing the employee on a three month “termination” schedule or performance plan This makes it less traumatic for all parties involved. The employee has time to find a new job and the firm has time to find a new employee – it’s a win-win.

These are just some tips to consider that may work out for your situation.

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Nikoleta & Associates

Business Strategists, Leadership Development Designers, Executive Coaches at Nikoleta & Associates
With an attitude that encourages growth, Nikoleta & Associates provides executive coaching, leadership development and change management services to clients in multiple industries including construction, consumer packaged goods, professional services, technology, financial services and health care. Through their blog posts, the dynamic team at Nikoleta & Associates offers practical advice for organizations on effective leadership strategies that align to business goals.Read more
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