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Firing People is Never Pleasant. Here’s How to at Least Do it Properly.

An important part of being an effective manager is gauging when you need to make a major personnel change. Terminating an employee requires the right balance of firmness and compassion. 

Part of being an effective leader is knowing when it’s time to make a major personnel change. Sometimes that means having to let a worker know that today is going to be their final day playing that role for your company. In a popular post on LinkedIn, businessman Matthew Berkshire details the proper way to terminate a work contract as well as how to firmly and compassionately break the news to the now former employee.

Among Berkshire’s guidelines is a reliance on the phrase “hire slow and fire quick:”

“Make sure that you have a good understanding of your company’s culture, and as a manager, defend it vehemently. A culture acts as an immune system, and when someone is hired it may quickly become apparent that he or she is not the correct fit. You should trust your gut and pull the trigger, because the cost of a poor cultural fit can be exponentially higher than the embarrassment one might feel from a poor hire.”

While this advice seems to advocate removing the personal factors from the process, Berkshire goes on to explain the need to balance graciousness and honesty with the rigidity of act:

Losing one’s job can be extremely jarring. I make my managers read a small paragraph every time they terminate that states that this person may be enduring personal battles and that they have a family. You should not see a termination as a quick fix or easy way out.

Properly dismissing an employee requires acting on behalf of the company’s best interests while maintaining respect for the person’s dignity. Unless it’s a situation involving sudden layoffs, a termination shouldn’t come as a huge surprise because it’s the manager’s responsibility to maintain open lines of communication regarding performance and discipline.

Read the rest of Berkshire’s advice at LinkedIn and let us know what you think.

Photo credit: Edhar / Shutterstock


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