Sometimes, an employee simply is not a good fit. When that happens, what should leaders do? Is there a “right” way to fire someone?
We’re likely all familiar with stories of employees being let go. Maybe we picture a Friday afternoon meeting followed by security guards escorting an angry, humiliated, and scared former employee out of the building. Perhaps we envision someone going over the edge, retaliating against what they view as unfair treatment. Specifics aside, the scenario is probably uncomfortable, unpleasant, and fear-laced.
What if there were a different way? What if terminations went smoothly for everyone involved and even benefited the company?
With an outward mindset, this becomes possible. Not easy, but possible.
When we have an outward mindset, we see others as people who matter like we do. We naturally become curious about their needs, challenges and goals. When our employees mess up, we want to know what they were thinking – why they did that they did – so that we can help.
With this mindset, two unexpected benefits emerge if we do need to let someone go.
It’s not a surprise.
It can be uncomfortable and scary to tell someone they’re not doing well. Because of this, managers sometimes neglect to give employees difficult feedback – especially if they are trying to be nice. They may shy away from the hard conversations needed to help an employee get back on track after a mistake.
Unfortunately, sometimes the employee messes up one too many times or makes too big a mistake. It’s the last straw for the manager – but the employee may not know that! In these cases, they’re let go for what seems like a first offense. They may feel surprised, defensive, and unfairly treated.
But if we hold an outward mindset – if we believe the employee matters like we do – then we have those uncomfortable conversations. Because we care, we give difficult feedback as many times as necessary and work with the employee to improve. If those improvements do not materialize, the employee knows exactly where they stand. They know what’s coming and why the termination is the right decision. They are therefore less likely to feel defensive or resistant. Even if the outcome is unpleasant, they understand it. They may even agree with the decision, if asked what they think the company should do!
It’s good word-of-mouth marketing.
This understanding and agreement leads to one of the most unexpected benefits of letting someone go from an outward mindset: a former employee who speaks highly of the company. As one of our clients said, “The way we market, that’s so important. We have no billboards, no flyers, no commercials, no sales. So the way every person experiences our company – employees and customers – matters. If you terminate somebody and they’re okay with it, that speaks volumes.”
Imagine talking to someone who’d recently been let go. What if they said, “You know, I’m really disappointed and sad, but I get it. They treated me really fairly. They’re good people; it’s a good company.”
Would you do business with that company? I would!
To learn more about your mindset, try taking our Mindset Audit!