While no one ever likes having to fire an employee, it does happen- and for various reasons.  There are a lot of steps required to fire an employee legally and ethically.  Termination has to be executed to protect a company from different types of lawsuits and public embarrassment. A terminated employee can be rightfully fired but this doesn’t prevent him or her from sometimes going to the media to cry foul.

How you fire an employee sends a powerful message to your remaining staff.  If the employee decides to contents his or her firing, you have to know how to handle both the media and internal relations, too.  You might be thinking it is easier to keep an underperforming employee than deal with potential public perception, legal and/or internal issues. While this may seem true, keeping an underperforming employee usually with result in a huge company overturn. Employees who are performing well will question why they are striving to work so hard while others skate by.

Start by providing constructive feedback to the employee who you’re considering firing. Document any mistakes, conversations and plans for improvement.  Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) are often a signal to an employee that they are a step away from termination.  Thus, it is important to consider how this employee immediately responds to a plan for improvement. Is he or she taking this action seriously? Is he or she resentful or trying to turn around his or her performance? If the employee is making an effort, you might want to consider providing additional learning tools before firing. If the employee seems disengaged from improvement then it is time to take the next step.

If you’re a new business owner then you should speak with an employment attorney before firing anyone.  In fact, you should speak with this attorney before hiring any employees so you know what your complete legal obligations are.  You should also plan an employee termination meeting. Do not give an employee more than a few minutes notice before the meeting.  Allowing more than a few minuets to think about the meeting will cause extra anxiety for the employee. You don’t want the employee to be any more upset than usually expected when one is being fired.  And, as always, have a second manager or assistant manager in the meeting.

If you would like a step-by-step checklist of what is needed when firing employees, check out this great list on About.com’s HR page. http://humanresources.about.com/od/whenemploymentends/a/end_employment.htm

Britanie Olvera, CEO