At Telapost I mostly have contractors that assist with random graphics and custom programming. I am not firing anyone. This is just a random article about how I fire my employees.
Note: I’m sure there are already 100 articles dedicated to this. For all I know, 99 of them are better than mine.
This article is how I personally do it.
In a previous life…
In a past IT related business I had to fire people. I had started the business from scratch and would let my electricity at home go out before firing someone to save money. The only reason I’ve ever fired anyone is because they couldn’t pull their own weight. I’ve had employees of every shape and size, color, sexual orientation, gender, and religion.
I’ve had it pretty good. I’ve only had to fire a dozen or so people. It isn’t like I laid off 40,000 people or anything. But, I have had some experience.
My personal tips to firing people
Always fire them yourself.
I once let an employee fire another. The person getting fired had an alcohol problem. Every Wednesday they’d show up for work under the influence. I told them repeatedly I did not want them on the road like that. They were worthless at work and I’d just send them home after noon. I never sent them home before noon because I didn’t want them upset and/or under the influence driving 20 miles. I went as far as to offer them assistance. I also offered them Wednesdays off. I gave them opportunities and chances. Too many.
I had promoted another employee to manager. There were only 5 of us total. I hated firing people. I don’t like heights, and I don’t like firing people. Both upset my stomach and practically put me in tears. Anyways, the manager was dying to use his new power and fire the other guy. I let him. I shouldn’t have. I was out the day it happened. I had told the drunk employee to never come in under the influence again. He promised he wouldn’t. I was out. He showed up drunk. I let the manager fire him. The manager was right, he needed to go. I should have done it sooner, myself.
Procrastinating firing someone is never a good idea. Every employee I ever fired, I should have fired much sooner than I did. There is never a good time to fire someone. You won’t always have their replacement in and trained. You will miss deadlines. You may end up filling their shoes and working overtime. It will be painful in more ways than one.
In business, choosing the path of most resistance is almost always the best decision.
I ended up firing the manager I spoke of above. He was good until he started having a problem with a girlfriend. Then, he went down the tubes. I figured it would get resolved, but, it didn’t, and months dragged on.
I ended up firing him on my birthday, knowing that I would have to work about 70 hours a week, effective immediately, until I could get his replacement trained. 24 hours later a family member had a terrible motorcycle accident and I would be taking several visits to the hospital for the next 6 weeks of my life.
There is never a good time to fire someone, even it is is on your birthday and it is going to screw your life up- there is no time like the present.
Have a good reason
In the small businesses I’ve owned, everyone has got to pull their own weight. If they aren’t making things better, they’re making them worse. People know deep inside when they aren’t pulling their own weight. You also can’t motivate people if they’re not passionate about what they’re doing.
People lie to themselves.
Sometimes people get tired of a job but live in denial. They think “I do not want to lose this job.” Sometimes getting fired is the best thing that could have happened to them. They will cling to a job they suck at just because there is a voice in their head telling them that getting fired is the end of the world.
Tell them why the relationship is terminating. Don’t beat around the bush. Don’t tell them it is your fault. Feel free to compliment them but also make 100% clear why the relationship ends right here, right now.
Don’t hire them again.
I fire people on Monday at 9AM.
I don’t know if there is a science to this or not, but, that’s how I roll.
There is no good way to do it.
If you’re searching the Internet for a good way to fire people, that tells me you’re worried about it. That worry is going to build until you do it. Then, you will fire them, and 3 minutes later, when they’re gone, you will feel a huge weight lifted from your shoulders.
If you haven’t been keeping track of violations, write down why they were fired, the time, the date, etc while it is fresh in your head. They will be trying to get unemployment soon.
If you were out of work for them to do or in a tough spot financially, don’t put up a fight, let them claim unemployment. Your unemployment insurance rate will increase next year. If they were fired for incompetency, do fight it. Simply reply to the letter clearly stating that they were fired for failure to perform their duties and that the position has been filled by someone else who would.
Warning vs Firing.
Finally, if someone has simply made a mistake, by all means, don’t fire them! People learn from mistakes. If they have made a mistake, that is great news, assuming they learned from it. Theft, blatant disregard to instruction, repeated mistakes, etc, yes, fire them. If you’re going to be the boss you need to go with your gut in a split second and not look back.
I’ve screwed up.
If you read the above, you’ll see that I was never very good at firing people, and I have made plenty of mistakes. There is no one good way to fire someone. All firings are different. Some people are upset. Most are sad. Sometimes, people cry. Every time I’ve fired someone, I’m confident they awoke the next day and thought “wow, he was right, I did need to be fired.”
Put the family first.
If you have a family and a small business, just realize that you are working for the family. Every single thing you do or don’t do affects the family, your kid’s education, the time you will have to spend with them, etc. Decisions are much easier to make this way.
There are good workers out there who will be compatible with your business. These people will fire you before you can fire them.
If the above doesn’t work, you could always text them this (just kidding, always fire them in person!):