When I put my devil-red shirt on in the morning my wife asks if I'm going to fire someone. Of course the answer is always No, because the number one rule of firing: We don't fire, we let someone pursue other opportunities.
No one likes to let an employee or an independent contractor go; it's not a pleasant experience. If you're reading this, you've probably been contemplating your options for some time, and maybe you feel stuck and uncertain.
Think of the Greater Good.
If you're doubting yourself, think of the Greater Good. The faster you can weed out a problem, the faster the rest of your staff and organization can get back to growing with success.
You may be doubting yourself because you don't actually have a good reason to fire someone. Maybe you just don't like the person. In the workplace there are a variety of personalities; they all offer something to the group. You really can't fire someone just because they rub you the wrong way. Many times these employees with the abrasive personality are the ones who become key assets to the team. Always use the 24 hour rule in making a termination decision.
BASIC STEPS FOR FIRING
Record at least two incidents demonstrating your need to terminate a person's job or contract. Write down a formal record of the misactions: date, person, what happened. Sign the document, then ask the employee to sign and date the warning. If the employee refuses to sign it, ask a supervisor to sign it as a witness.
2. Find a replacement
Place an ad, conduct interviews, choose a candidate, and set a start date.
3. Schedule the Termination Meeting
Send the problem person home early and tell them to meet you in your office the following morning.
4. Cut off access
Cut off access to important company documents and buildings: change passwords, reroute email, change locks or collect keys.
5. The Meeting
The following morning: Quick, calm, honest (never say something untrue in a termination meeting).
ALWAYS HAVE A WITNESS AT THIS MEETING.
A supervisor, the janitor, your consultant, SOMEONE.
"I'm afraid I don't have good news for you."
Thank them for their time and efforts.
Highlight good qualities.
Because of [list reasons for termination] you are not the person to be occupying this position at this time. We're exploring other candidates for the position.
Good luck in your future endeavors.
Please feel free to use me as a reference.
Give final paycheck.
6. Inform the team
Let your staff know who was let go and the simple reasons why. Remember that your staff may have liked this person and may be disappointed about this news. Show them how the decision will help the remaining staff with a simple, "So-and-so was let go because he was late to work repeatedly, which made YOU have to work harder. Ms. New Hire is our new addition to the team; she's a team player and will be covering the early morning shift--so you can all go back to sleeping in!"
7. Go do something else!
Don't dwell on the termination. You've got a business to run. Focus on another important element of your business!
Common Questions about Terminating an Employee or Independent Contractor
What are sufficient reasons for firing?
If it's an independent contractor, their lack of project completion or their poor performance is ample reason to terminate. If it's an employee in a team environment, you may have to look deeper at how the person's actions are affecting the team.
Do I need to find a replacement?
No. If you're a small business owner you may have realized that you over-hired, and that your staff is simply not paying for themselves. You can be the replacement.
What do I do if I've procrastinated? Can I fire someone if I've let the bad behavior go on for years and years?
Make a company-wide announcement that the company is going through some changes and is doing a company-wide evaluation. You can even ask your staff to evaluate themselves. Set a date on when decisions will be finalized, make your written documentation and follow the steps above.
Please check with your state ordinances or the person's contract for any other requirements.