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How to Fire Ineffective Employees

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For most managers, it’s the worst, most dreaded part of their job: firing people. Even though it’s difficult, it sometimes has to be done. When considering how to fire ineffective employees, there are definitely some best practices you should follow. Below are four tips to help you handle this challenging task.

Give Clear Warnings

Firing should not come as a surprise to the employee. You should give feedback in a timely fashion when you feel his performance or behavior is unacceptable. If the negative actions still continue, you must clearly warn him that if he does not improve within a set timeframe, termination is a possibility. When you give a warning regarding termination, be sure to deliver it verbally as well as in a written memo so there will be total clarity regarding the potential consequences – and you will have proof you followed a reasonable protocol should the employee claim things were handled unfairly.

Take Advantage of Human Resources

Work with someone in your human resources department to ensure that the termination is handled correctly. It can be helpful to have an HR representative in the room during the dismissal as a witness from a legal standpoint and to make things more comfortable for both parties. While the manager should deliver the news, an HR rep can answer any logistical questions like where to hand off keys and parking passes or how long the employee will have access to medical benefits. HR can also help you prepare all the necessary paperwork beforehand to guarantee a smooth process. If you don’t have a human resources person in your company, it might be helpful to seek advice from a consultant.

Keep It Short

Deliver the news to the terminated employee in a private space. Use words that are simple, clear, and to-the-point. Let him know he’s been terminated and explain the cause in a simple sentence. Don’t try to apologize or make excuses. Let him know when he’ll be expected to leave the office and how the company will handle severance and benefits. Do not linger once you’ve said what you need to say.

Be Helpful

Offer to serve as a reference for the terminated employee if you feel his talents could be put to use elsewhere. Oftentimes, a termination is just the result of a bad cultural fit for both parties. Approve any claims for unemployment benefits. Even if you feel the employee doesn’t deserve them, as he is unemployed through a fault of his own, it’s more of a hassle (and opens you up to potential litigation) if you deny them, not to mention the negative karma involved.

When researching how to fire ineffective employees, there are many online resources offering advice and case studies. While the details might differ (some say never fire someone on a Friday, while others believe it to be the best day, for example) the suggestions above are universal. When you’re looking to grow your business, you don’t need an unproductive employee dragging things down. Take action immediately once you’ve given an ineffective employee warning and a chance to improve his performance.

If you business is on a growth path, consider pursuing a small business loan to ease the transition.


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