How To Fire an Employee Gracefully

Firing Employees is a Critical Decision for Leaders

You’ve coached, trained, supported, and fostered an environment that should be conducive for success for anyone at your office. After much conversation, performance planning, and documented discussions, you’ve finally made the decision to release an employee. Most leaders begin to think about how this will affect the employee – will they be ok? Will this cause financial hardship and undue strain on the employee and his or her family? Am I doing the right thing? Many leaders think this way, which is totally understandable. Leaders are human, after all! This critical decision, though difficult for most to make, is made easier when a few key steps are taken.
Are the Roles and Responsibilities of the Job Perfectly Clear?
One of the greatest shortcomings of many leaders of industry is an inability to clearly articulate the roles and responsibilities of the job at hand. An employee should rarely be surprised when they are facing termination. As long as the job requirements are spelled out in a clear manner, there should be little room for confusion on behalf of the employee. By clearly defining the demands of the job, leaders will face a much easier task when they are forced to release an employee.
Document, Document, Document
When faced with the prospect of firing an employee, there are typically two main reasons. The first situation revolves around an employee who has violated a policy of the company. The second correlates to a lack of performance against company established metrics. The first situation is much more cut and dry, and typically requires enough documentation to satisfy the legal requirements for termination. The second situation isn’t as simple. Performance can take on many forms, and an employee who feels that they are performing strongly in one area may be apt to neglect another. Documentation of specific performance issues will allow for little discussion when the time comes to issue disciplinary action – or even terminate. This makes the process of releasing an employee easier, and allows for a more graceful interaction between leader and employee.

Be Respectful, But Don’t Drag it Out

Firing an employee is a situation that any leader will inevitably have to face. That said, it doesn’t make it easier on the person being fired when you begin the conversation with, “I know this is a difficult thing to have to deal with, and I’m sorry it has come to this, but…” Don’t apologize, don’t shift blame, and don’t neglect the fact that this employee has underperformed and has not lived up to the contract between employer and employee that was established during the hiring and onboarding phase. Firing an employee takes a few short minutes, but the method and manner in which it is done can have a lasting impact. In fact, employees will occasionally fight the firing move, but being positive and unapologetic can typically take the interaction from hostile to graceful. As a leader, you’ll have to fire people. Understanding that preparation, documentation, and proper communication are the keys to a successful termination will go a long way to making this unfortunate activity a more graceful interaction.

How to Be An Effective Interviewer

Learn To Interview Effectively and You’ll Hire Better Team Members!

Becoming an effective interviewer is a learned skill. It is a systematic, step-by-step process that can help decision makers weed out those prospective employees who may appear fit for the job at first glance – but really aren’t. Classes are available that can help train a leader around interviewing best practices, behavioral questioning, and resume analysis. Additionally, peers in your industry who have demonstrated a track record of making good hiring decisions can provide guidance and feedback about interviewing potential candidates.
Ensure Your New Hire Fits in With the Company Culture
Every company has a culture. The culture is the collective philosophies, behaviors, mandates, best practices, and goals that have been established by senior leadership within the organization. While a prospective employee may have a stellar resume and significant experience in your field, it is vital that they will be able to adapt and flourish within the company culture that permeates your business. If they don’t seem a good fit, no matter how solid their resume looks, pass on them.

Behavioral Interviewing Is Key to Making Sound Choices

Behavioral interviewing focuses on asking applicants about behaviors, experiences, and past activities that may correlate to the roles and responsibilities of the job they are applying for. Most authorities on hiring believe that past performance is a significant predictor of future success. With this in mind, questions like “tell me about yourself” or “what is your biggest strength” may be only somewhat impactful. Asking an applicant to “describe a time when you were challenged at work and came up short” may provide a deeper dive into the applicant’s work ethic, ability to overcome obstacles, and aptitude for crisis management.
Questions Around Motivation and Empowerment
When interviewing a potential new employee, it is common to base a hiring decision on the strength of their resume and the skillset that the applicant already possesses. Two often-overlooked factors are motivation and empowerment. Though these attributes are only ever discovered when an interviewer uses behavioral interviewing methods, motivation and empowerment levels can help indicate the potential of a new hire.
Applicants who directly spell out the factors that motivate during an interview are more likely to be open about asking for these motivating elements that are available on the job. If an interviewee mentions that receiving two paid days off for a successful project completion was highly motivating, it may tell more about the applicant than someone who says they are motivated by money. Employees who can open up and let leadership know what they value are more likely to become valued employees down the road.
Effective Interviewing is Crucial to Building a High Performance Team
Interviewing is a science of knowing which critical questions to ask and how to interpret the responses. One question should flow into the next, allowing the applicant to paint a picture of their skills, experiences, and qualifications. As an interviewer, it is critical to ask the right questions to ensure you’re in a position to hire that next high-performance team member.

Motivating an Employee – Not a “One Size Fits All” Approach

A question often posed in HR circles and leadership forums is “how do I motivate an employee?” This is a puzzle that most leaders would love to solve. While there is no one size fits all approach to motivating an individual, there are a few key areas to focus on to ensure that your business promotes a culture of motivation and achievement.
Are You Really Motivated By Your Job?
The first thing to consider is that motivation is typically fueled by an external factor. Most employees aren’t inherently motivated – something either at work or at home drives them to succeed. For many, the idea of extra time off is a motivating factor. Spending more time at home with friends and family is a big reward, and can push even the average employee to work harder and deliver better results. Some employees are enamored with the idea of earning more money – motivated by the prospect of raises, merit increases, and promotions. Whatever the specific motivation is, it is vital that leadership within the organization takes the time to directly identify what these factors are.
Motivating the Generations
One consideration to make regarding motivation centers on motivating all generations of employees. What specifically excites a generation X employee (born between 1964 – 1981) may not motivate a Millennial (born between 1982 – 2000). Generation X employees have demonstrated motivation in the workplace when an environment of fun, feedback, and flexibility is apparent. Generation X employees are motivated by flexible work arrangements. While their parents may have gotten used to punching the clock every morning at 9am sharp and grabbing their lunch pail at exactly 5pm, Gen X’ers appreciate and are motivated by flexible work schedules, breaks in the routine, and tangible rewards. Give a Gen X’er a gift card to dinner and an early out – and you’ll see an employee who is motivated to achieve the next day at work.
For the Baby Boomer generation, motivation takes on a different meaning. “Being in charge” can motivate Boomers. Titles, perks of the job, and anything that helps distinguish and accentuate the heights that a Boomer has achieved will go a long way toward motivating the employee. Older employees – say those born before 1945, are motivated by those who recognize the talents and depth of experience that these workers bring to the table. A leader of an older worker should understand that a traditional, “straight path” career model is comfortable for many in this age bracket.
Creating a Culture of Achievement
One of the simplest ways to ensure that employees are motivated is to create a culture of achievement at the workplace. Achievement must be the norm. It isn’t what employees aspire to – it is the day in and day out focus on setting new benchmarks, innovating on the job, and reaching new heights of productivity. These metrics might be different among the various generational groups, so the keen manager will ensure that they know not just what motivates the individual, but what motivates a generation.