Do you have a problem employee? Is someone not living up to their potential? Are they incapable of performing at the level you were expecting? Do they have trouble getting along with others in the office? There are a lot of reasons to fire an employee, so it is important to know why and essential to know what mistakes you should be avoiding.

Before you decide to terminate that difficult employee, take a look at these common errors made by managers during the process.

  • Terminating without warning.
    It is never appropriate to fire an employee without prior warning regarding their behavior. It is best to have an official policy in place that provides a code of conduct and how warnings will be handled. You may have a “three-strike” policy, where two warnings will occur before you take advance action. Or, you could have everything spelled out in an employee handbook describing what actions will create cause for termination. In any case, the employee needs to be aware that engaging in this behavior will have consequences.
  • Giving the task to someone else.
    Firing someone is hard. No one wants to be the bearer of bad news, so it isn’t uncommon for a supervisor or manager to pass the task off to someone else. But this is bad form and can send the entirely wrong message not only to the employee being terminated but to the rest of your staff. Take this responsibility on yourself and handle it the right way when you plan to fire an employee.
  • Making personal attacks.
    Whether you like someone personally or not is never the issue when you’re firing them, though it could be a contributing factor. The important thing is to avoid getting personal. In fact, it is highly likely that an angry employee will make personal statements and even be insulting while you’re discussing their termination, but don’t give in to this behavior. Maintain professionalism, never make personal attacks, and never respond to theirs.
  • Burning employment bridges.
    Most people assume that it is the responsibility of the employee not to burn the bridges. And for good reason. They will have the burden of finding a new job, so relationships with past employers should be carefully considered. But bridges do go both ways, and it is equally as important that an employer not set it on fire in the process of letting someone go. Even if the former employee refuses to accept the gesture, it is up to you to treat them with respect.

Do you struggle with your policies around when to terminate employment? Contact Harvard Resource Solutions to learn how we can help you!