Do you ever feel like firing an employee is a necessary evil -something you have to do whether you feel comfortable doing it or not? Handled incorrectly, it can compound an already bad situation.  It can even turn into a full-blown disaster if a lawsuit ensues!  On the other hand, when handled correctly, this difficult task may prove to be a stepping-stone to a better future for the released employee and result in improved morale for your other employees.

Some situations call for immediate dismissal such as stealing, insubordination, a serious confrontation with another employee, bringing a weapon to work or worse.  In cases that don't call for immediate dismissal, consider these points when deciding whether or not to fire someone.

  1. Have you been consistent?
    Example:  if you look the other way when an employee regularly arrives at work five minutes late and don't reprimand, then suddenly one day fire the employee for tardiness, you may earn a reputation as an unfair owner or manager.  You might also find yourself defending your actions in court.
  2. Did you discuss your expectations with the employee?
    Some employees, particularly inexperienced ones, may need detailed guidance regarding their responsibilities. Make sure your expectations are crystal clear in the minds of everyone who works for you, especially if you plan to terminate.
  3. Did you enforce the guidelines? 
    If you informed the employee of rules and regulations, but have not enforced them, the employee may have heard an unspoken message that the guidelines were not important.  Unfortunately, this happens too often.  Owners and managers are frequently inconsistent in when, how, and for whom the guidelines apply.
  4. Do you have the facts to back up your decision to terminate?
    Be sure you're not firing from an emotional level influenced by a personal dislike of the employee.  In addition, remember that not all fired employees will go quietly.  If an employee chooses to challenge your decision, you need to have documentation on file showing specific dates and events, as well as records of discussions with the employee about the problem(s).
  5. Have you followed store or company policy/procedures?
    Owners and managers of privately owned restaurants may have more flexibility regarding firing.  However, operators of larger restaurants or chain restaurants may be required to follow specific company guidelines when firing.

In summary, when it's time to fire someone, doing so without making matters worse can be a challenge for even the most experienced owners and managers.  Treat others the way you wish to be treated, both those you terminate and those who remain to carry on.

About the Author:
Carol Hacker is a speaker, seminar leader, consultant and author who ranks among the experts in the field of recruiting and retention issues.  For more than two decades, she's been a significant voice in front-line and corporate human resource management to hundreds of small businesses as well as Fortune 500 companies.  She's the author of ten highly-acclaimed business books including the bestsellers, Hiring Top Performers-350 Great Interview Questions For People Who Need People and 450 Low-Cost/No-Cost Strategies for recognizing, rewarding & retaining good people.  Carol can be reached at 770-410-0517 in Alpharetta, Georgia.

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