In his lectures about teamwork, John Maxwell tells us that one person not pulling his or her own weight wipes out 50% of the efforts of the entire team. They are that much of a drag on the energy output of everyone else striving to make your company a success. As a small business owner this statistic is not one you can afford to live with for too long or the damage will become irreparable. One of the toughest decisions you may ever have to make is firing an employee, especially if you are sensitive to the impact it will have on their life. You have to consider the survival of your business and the morale of your other employees.
To avoid legal repercussions from a disgruntled ex-employee there are a few things you need to do prepare for the day you say “you’re fired.” The moment things start to go wrong and you know you have done everything possible to correctly train your employee and help them get on the right track, you must have adequate documentation to prove your case.
It costs money to hire and train a person, so giving them the “axe” means you’ve lost out on your investment. You’ll need to have a clearly defined company policy in place that outlines the deeds you consider “deal breakers” and the steps you’ll take to right the issues. Put everything in writing. For example, establish regular employee reviews and give your employee a copy of the results of the review. Document the actions you’ve taken with that person with their performance record. Make sure you let this person know all along they are risking losing their job, and certainly don’t “write them up” for actions you excuse others for doing.
Your “firing” checklist needs to cover some practical needs. Have someone else on staff trained to take over that person’s job and incomplete projects. Be prepared to collect keys, equipment and passwords, and then change all passwords that would give them access to important documents or systems. If you have a human resources department, send the employee for a departing interview where they’ll be given information regarding health insurance, accrued vacation days and final pay.
When the day comes to dismiss your employee get over your emotions. Guilt is not going to help you or this individual that obviously does not fit with your small business objectives. In the long run the changes will benefit everyone.
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