What to do BEFORE Firing a Person

Fired, Firing

Thinking about firing a person from your team?

In the past week, I have written two posts concerning letting staff members go from your team:

Before you run off and get your Donald Trump on, realize that letting a person go is not something you should do flippantly. There are several reasons to release a person from your team, but doing so should be the last step in a multi-step process. Think you may need to let a person go?

Read on For 6 things to do before you fire a person:

1. Make Expectations Clear.

You can’t hold a person accountable for something that has not been communicated clearly. Many organizations that I consult with have no clear job descriptions and expectations are fuzzy. A person has a right to know of what is expected of him, whether he is succeeding or failing, and what a win looks like in his role. It is unfair to fire a person when you have failed to make expectations clear.

2. Give Regular Feedback.

Every person on your team should be getting regular feedback concerning what she is doing well and what she needs to improve on. The best way to do this is normally to meet each of your paid direct reports at least every two weeks and have an ongoing dialogue concerning work performance. When you meet with a direct report, evaluate her according to her job description. Give her feedback on where improvement is needed. Ask what she needs from you in order to succeed. Every person needs to know how she is doing in her work performance. It’s your job to provide it.

3. Don’t Avoid Conflict.

If you can’t handle conflict then, you should do something other than lead. A good leader must be willing to have hard conversations with those who work under him. Conflict avoidance is deadly to healthy working relationships. Before you fire a person, you should already have had a lot of hard conversations.

4. Give a Person every Opportunity to Succeed before Firing.

Far before you let a person go he should be given every opportunity to succeed. Make expectations clear. Train and develop every leader that you oversee. Give each of your paid direct reports positive and negative feedback so each knows how he is doing. Be gracious and give the person space to fail. Firing a person should be the last step in a multi-step process.

5. Document your Conversations.

Every time you have a hard conversation with a person that you oversee, you should document it in writing. Your memory is not sufficient for you to rely on prior to firing a person. But if you have recorded notes from ten conversations on ten different dates you will have a clear and documented record of work patterns and conversations. This documentation will help you make a wise decision over a period of time and will also protect you.

6. Eliminate Surprises.

By the time you release a person, he shouldn’t be surprised. You have made expectations clear. You have given continual feedback. You have had many difficult conversations. You have not avoided conflict. You have given a lot of opportunities to succeed. You have documented your conversations. By taking these first five steps there will be no surprises.

Letting a person go is never easy. Before you do so, carefully progress through these steps.

What have you learned about letting a person go? Share with a comment or question.

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Posted by Brian Howard

My focus is to help YOU move forward one step at a time. I write about church excellence, personal productivity, and family leadership. I coach leaders, start churches, and help organizations break growth barriers. My goal is to draw on this experience to help YOU move forward in life, leadership, and productivity.

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