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Firing employees can be a daunting task

Aug 21 2012, 14:29   |   By SME Mentor

Firing someone can never be a pleasant experience. The sheer amount of awkwardness that surrounds the situation is enough to give the employee and the employer the goose-bumps.

The truth is no company likes to fire its employees. However, sometimes the industry situation and/or the economy strain call for the firing of the employee. In other cases, the poor performance of the employee is the reason behind him getting the boot.
 
No matter what the reason, the entrepreneur needs to keep in mind that employees must be fired in a dignified and humanly manner.

1.      Give warnings

An employee shouldn't be fired out of the blue, without warnings. An entrepreneur owes it to his company and his employees to give them a chance to rectify their errors. Harish Bijoor, author, brand manager and entrepreneur, says, "It is important to give employees an opportunity to correct themselves by giving them advance warnings. In my experience, out of every 10 employees that are given warnings, 2 employees genuinely mend their ways. The key here is to keep patience and this is something the corporate world doesn't have much of."

This notion is reiterated by Rajiv Dhingra, Founder and CEO of WATConsult. He says, "We follow a 3-part process. Immediate superiors and colleagues give 2 warnings to non-performing employees; after each warning the employee is given a one month to pull his act together. If after both these warnings the employee is not able to find his rhythm, we put him on a notice period and ask him to leave."

2.      Justify your actions

Firing of an employee is absolutely not okay if you cannot justify your action. The key to a successful firing (if something like that even exists) is to be able to explain each and every reason behind the sacking of the employee. It is advisable for the entrepreneur to document the instances that have eventually led to the firing. Also, it would be a good idea to list certain 'firing clauses' in the employee contract. All this information will come in handy in case the employee decides to give you a hard time over his sacking.

3.      Documentation

Firing an employee is a systematic process. And it is in every entrepreneur's best interest to follow a step-wise approach to the whole episode; similar to one he would adopt when hiring an employee. Divyesh Panchal, Co-Founder of Just Unjunk! says, "If a termination is unavoidable, (you must) document every action carefully. Be very specific, both in your conversations (with) and in your memos (to the employee). Describe specific instances that have led to the dismissal, and don't generalize. See that the employee receives a copy of every memo (related to his dismissal) and make sure that these go into his personnel file. And more importantly have a strong personnel system that is specifically designed to handle such instances."

4.      Maintain the right tone

Like it has been said already, firing someone is not an easy task. There is bound to be discomfiture and uneasiness. Divyesh says, "Employee termination can be referred to as 'workplace divorce'. Like in divorce, the parties involved can choose to be belligerent or cordial." The entrepreneur needs to keep in mind that any person who is set to lose his job is bound to go through some upsetting emotional stages like a sense of despair, shame, and anger. Keeping the delicate nature of the situation in mind, it is the entrepreneur's job to set the right tone from the beginning. He must ensure that all dealings with the errant employee happen in a stern, strict yet thoroughly professional manner. 

An entrepreneur must take it upon himself to chalk out a clear termination process right at the start of the venture and adhere to it when so required.  

SMEmentor@moneycontrol.com

 


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