The way we fire employees has changed dramatically in the last decade. At the heart of this change, is the idea that firing an employee should be done quickly, especially if they are no longer an ideal fit for your team. Far gone are the days of performance improvement plans or severance packages. If we want to build organizations that value and nurture their culture and take care of their employees, then we must vigilantly protect our team from toxic individuals and ensure healthy working relationships are maintained at all times. Let’s dive into this new method of firing an employee in this article!
When firing a toxic employee, timing is everything. Leaving someone in your organization who is resentful or otherwise harmful can have a direct impact on your team’s performance. You’ll want to handle things quickly, cleanly, and with clear reasons for both you and your employees. Firing should be treated as a learning experience for both parties involved—not just for what not to do but also as a reminder of how valuable each person on our team really is.
Be honest, upfront, and direct with your team member. Rather than sharing your reason for terminating them, start with a statement like I’m not sure how we got here or what went wrong; but our working relationship is no longer sustainable. Make sure you’re both in agreement about why you’re firing them before you ask them to leave. This gives employees a chance to explain their side of things, if needed.
Forcing employees out of a job can be demoralizing, but sometimes it’s necessary. It’s true that letting go of good people can put your business at risk by making it look like a revolving door for talent, but it also makes room for promising candidates. And even if a fired employee ends up in another role later on, you’ve still sent them a clear message about how you operate: Your company has standards. Period. You don’t play favorites.
If you’re firing someone, be certain that it’s in line with your company policies. If not, you might find yourself in hot water—and even face a wrongful termination lawsuit. Read up on your employee handbook; if you don’t have one, consider hiring a lawyer.
If you don’t fire them, here’s what could happen: their ideas could be better than yours, their judgment is better than yours, they might want your job more than you do (and it might just be easier for them to get). They may spend more time thinking about how your company can improve—and less time thinking about ways they can. Is that really what you want? If not, then start writing your employment termination letter.
Check out how to fix a Toxic Culture here.