Business rescue: How do I fire someone?

Can’t I get rid of them? Three things you need to know before you fire that terrible employee.

For a small business, getting the people right is essential — you just don’t have enough staff to carry the load for someone not performing at their best. But firing someone needs to be fully considered before you just jump into doing it.

So what are the three essential things you need to consider if you want to show an employee the door? We asked human resources expert Robyn Moyle what business owners should think about first.

1. Understand the problem. There are many possible reasons for poor performance: lack of clarity, lack of skills, external pressures or influences, poor leadership, poor business culture, or perhaps just a pure lack of interest. It’s up to you to really understand which is at play before you act.

2. Change your communication. Too many managers have conversations about tasks instead of outcomes. Outcomes are inspiring, tasks are not. I have seen the “worst employee” become the best employee purely by changing the performance conversation. Ensure that your conversations look at the objective you want the employee to achieve and together, shoulder to shoulder, focus on that. Learn how to ask your employee the right questions and then learn to shut up and allow the response to come!

3. Be fair. At the end of the day, if your troublesome employee is simply not interested in the desired outcome for your business and you have to “set them free”, then remember the following.

  • Rule one is that a termination should never be a surprise.

  • Have a clear and fair termination process that is fully understood.

  • Try to make it as equitable as possible.

Good luck!

Robyn Moyle is a People Performance Strategist with extensive experience over 25 years working in corporate HR. Robyn holds a Post Grad Diploma in Human Resources from the Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI).

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