Forums

Yes, I need to fire one of my employees next week for poor performance. I am dreading doing it because she is nice and finally started trying hard and seeing some progress, but not near enough. She is just not the right fit.

I am dreading the day, it's pretty depressing thinking about it. How do you all handle this sort of thing? It's definitely the worst part of the job and I feel guilty because letting her go is my decision.

regas14's picture

Why are you waiting until next week? Why not tomorrow, or today?

tcomeau's picture

[quote="drmain"]Y...How do you all handle this sort of thing? It's definitely the worst part of the job and I feel guilty because letting her go is my decision.[/quote]

First recommendation: Review the end-stage coaching series.
[list]
[url]http://www.manager-tools.com/2006/02/how-to-fire-someone-well-almost/[/url]
[url]http://www.manager-tools.com/2006/03/the-late-and-early-stage-coaching-m...
[url]http://www.manager-tools.com/2006/03/late-stage-coaching-model-review-pa...
[/list:u]
Make sure you've done everything you need to do to get to this decision.

Second: Once you've decide, act. This is a theme we hear a lot from M&M, whether you're making an offer or telling your boss you've just heard a sexual harrasment claim. Don't wait. Whatever you've decided to do, there is rarely much benefit to putting off the action steps.

If you've done the coaching (really, not just gone through the motions) and she still isn't meeting the expectations for the job, then you have a responsibility to your team, to your company, and to yourself to act.

If you've really decided, is there a good reason not to do it tomorrow?

tc>

attmonk's picture

My view is that I have never made the decision to fire someone, they did that themselves by not performing in the first place.
The only time I beat myself up about it is when I have failed to give them the proper support and opportunity to get their performance up to standard, if I have done that then its really their decision.

WillDuke's picture

Good advice above, especially about not waiting. What's the value in waiting? You get to stew about it longer? As soon as it's done you can start the healing process. You've made your decision, go with it.

This is why we get the manager paycheck. Sometimes it ain't fun.

rthibode's picture

drmain posted on a Friday. From what I recall, it's not a good idea to fire people on Friday. I think the reason is something to do with the potential for the person being isolated (alone) over the weekend and potential suicide risk. Am I totally off track here?

LouFlorence's picture

Having had the opportunity to do this a few times I agree with rthibode -- Friday is not a great day to let someone go.

My experience is that it took a few days to get all the pieces in order (OKs up the chain, HR, severance package if applicable). It also took me a little bit to get ready. What office or conference room, when, are they carpooling, etc. I think that getting it done within a week of the decision is quite reasonable in a case like this. (Some ethical breaches are so egregious they require dismissal as soon as possible-- this does not sound like that.)

As for yourself, DR, the recommendation for the end-stage coaching 'cast is right on. I would also be prepared for a bit of an emotional rollercoaster for yourself. The comforting thing is that if it is really not a good fit, both you and the person leaving will know it's true and you will both be relieved that a bad situation has ended. Out of that comes an opportunity to help the person find a better situation. I have been fortunate enough to have that opportunity and it is a gratifying, healing experience.

Lou

drmain's picture

Well, it is done. The paperwork got done earlier than expected so I let her go this morning when she came in to work. She has re-paid me already by emailing the CEO and Board of Directors a bunch of lies about me in an attempt to assasinate my character. The lies are so out there that I don't know whether to just dispute them once verbally (which I did) or write a 10 page dissertation to the CEO and Board. Fun stuff.

What would you do?

terrih's picture

Ouch. What fun for you.

I suspect it's not the first time the CEO & Board have heard a pack of lies spewed by someone who was upset about being fired, and I would be surprised if they don't recognize it for what it is. They may feel compelled to ask you about it just to make sure, but I would HOPE that's just a formality.

Sounds like it was high time she was gone. :?

It must really churn up your emotions. :cry: :evil: Maybe you could write the 10-page rebuttal but just not send it to anyone. It might help you feel better. And it would probably be best if you burned it afterward. Seriously.

asteriskrntt1's picture

If I were a CEO or a Board Member and received comments like that, I would seriously discount them. If things were so horrendous, A), the Board etc would already be aware of them because performance and moral were so low, and B), massive amounts of people would have been voicing similar complaints over time.

*RNTT

drmain's picture

Thanks everyone for your comments and advice, it has been much appreciated. Not sure if I should put it in this thread or start another but I am curious how to prevent or diminish any backlash or negativity from other employees who may have liked the woman that I let go and therefore cause potential issues between myself and them? I know that her best friend (who is also somewhat negative) is an employee and was clearly distressed with what happened.

juliahhavener's picture

The only way that you can combat this is solidly open communications on the way to this point. She needs to understand that she has fired herself by her action (or lack thereof). You cannot change the things other people do, only the things YOU do.

If there is action from the best friend who remains which has a negative impact on the team, it is time for feedback. You can absolutely acknowledge her grief at the loss and understand it. You cannot allow her to go about spreading contention and malcontent -- feedback and O3s are your resolution if she reports to you. That's the place for her to vent -- and the place for you to simply close the book that the issue is closed. It's not up for discussion with her because she was not involved.

bflynn's picture

[quote="drmain"]Well, it is done. The paperwork got done earlier than expected so I let her go this morning when she came in to work. She has re-paid me already by emailing the CEO and Board of Directors a bunch of lies about me in an attempt to assasinate my character. The lies are so out there that I don't know whether to just dispute them once verbally (which I did) or write a 10 page dissertation to the CEO and Board. Fun stuff.

What would you do?[/quote]

I believe you've done enough, let it go and focus back on producing results. Any more would become a case of protesting too much. CEOs and Directors have seen enough of this to know.

Brian

WillDuke's picture

I agree with the others about basically ignoring her parting salvo. You have NOTHING to gain. Sure, I might write the letter and then burn it, leave no evidence, but unless asked I wouldn't dignify it wiith a response.

As to her friend: communicate. Be honest. "How are you doing with your friend leaving?" Keep it about her though, not about you. That's the role of the O3 right? Let her communicate. Let her say what she thinks. If she can vent it to you it doesn't have to poison the rest of the team. And you might be surprised. She might know her friend brought it on herself. Given the opportunity to come to terms with it, you might even see her "negative" behavior improve.

Gotta love these kinds of times. They're what help you appreciate the amazing team you're working to put together.

Mark's picture

I am sorry that I wasn't able to weigh in on this issue while it was "live".

Episodes like this remind us all that creating a performance culture is the only way to be an effective manager. When a manager does that, "others" don't speak up, because they don't like someone not doing their.

Further, when you give lots of feedback, and coach and coach again and then go through the late stage coaching model, no one - not her peers, not your boss, not the CEO - will argue with your decision....AND her letter will fall on deaf ears.

Sorry again that I wasn't helpful at the time. Firing someone is never something we like doing...but being a professional sometimes means doing what you are SUPPOSED to do, whether you like it or not.

Glad you went through it, and sorry there was an aftermath.

Mark

Mark's picture

One more thing here.

The right time to fire someone is the moment you know you should, whether it's Friday or any other day.

Do not delay when you are ready (and I define ready as having done your best, following our guidance, which requires substantial investment to save them first).

Mark

tlhausmann's picture

[quote="juliahdoyle"]If there is action from the best friend who remains which has a negative impact on the team, it is time for feedback. You can absolutely acknowledge her grief at the loss and understand it. [/quote]

It would be interesting to have an update. In most cases that I have seen the productivity of the friends improve after the action. I attribute it to seeing the firm holding people accountable for their performance.