4 Things to Consider Before Letting an Employee Go

Best Practices, Employees, Hiring

Letting go of an employee might sound like a great idea in a fit of anger, or at the peak of your frustration, but it’s vital to take a step back and reflect on the decision. Managers are in a tough spot when it comes down to weighing all the options, predicting outcomes and figuring out what is best for the organization.

1. The Costs Associated with Turnover

When faced with the decision to fire someone, a manager should always consider the hidden costs that can snowball long after the person is let go. These costs include lowered productivity, increased workload on the remaining staff, recruiting, training and interviewing their replacement. Here’s a breakdown of the cost from CBSMoneyWatch:

“For all jobs earning less than $50,000 per year, or more than 40 percent of U.S. jobs, the average cost of replacing an employee amounts to fully 20 percent of the person’s annual salary, the liberal-leaning think-tank [the Center for American Progress] found in a study that looks at 31 corporate case studies.”

Before you ask that problem employee into your office, be sure that the organization is financially in a place to let them go.

2. When You Point a Finger…

We all heard the phrase when we were growing up: “When you point a finger, four more are pointing back at you.” Besides our inevitable argument, “Yeah, well what about my thumb?” there was a lot of truth to that old adage.

Before you pull the plug, ask yourself if this might be a “you” problem.

  • Have you set this employee up for success?
  • Are you confident in your role as their facilitator?
  • Did you solicit feedback, or give them any feedback?
  • Is there a chance that your frustrations have gotten in the way of offering real leadership?
  • Have you rewarded, or acknowledged their successes?

If you truly believe that you did your best to turn this situation around, then by all means…go onto the next two questions.

3. What Will This Do To Morale?

Face it, as a manager you aren’t privy to the inner social workings of your team. There are times when it is painfully obvious that an employee doesn’t fit in, but there are other members whose departure can cause an unexpected hit to team morale.

This is one of many reasons that frequent peer-to-peer reviews/evaluations are so helpful. You’re obviously not going to go around take a poll, “Should I fire Will, check yes or no.” However you will be able to gauge the potential impact of each member on the team. The practice of peer-to-peer reviews also lends managers a more, well-rounded picture of the employee. You could find that you’re way off in your assessment of this employee.

4. Is the Proper Documentation in Place?

As a matter of safeguarding the organization, the proper documentation is vital. When employees turn to legal action if they feel that they have been wrongfully terminated (or simply know that you can’t prove otherwise), the entire organization can be in jeopardy.

Beyond keeping the organization safe, managers can turn to documentation to make a decision about the employee by looking at the big picture of their performance, not just what they can readily recollect.

“Whenever you’re having significant problems with an employee, WRITE DOWN THE KEY POINTS.  I can’t stress this strongly enough.  Dozens of times I’ve had managers tell me that they couldn’t let a difficult employee go because they had no record of his or her bad behavior. And all too often this lack of documentation arises out of misplaced hopefulness; that they didn’t want to be ‘too negative’ about the employee (As if it would all magically go away if they didn’t write it down).  Good managers know that documentation isn’t negative – it’s prudent.  Remember, if you’re able to solve the problem, you can just breathe a sigh of relief and put your documentation in the back of the drawer.”

-Organizational Leadership Expert, Erika Andersen.

When letting an employee go, you always have to make sure that this action will do more good for the company, than it will do harm. The termination must be for the right, documented reasons. Always take some time with the decision, to ensure that the correct one is made.

This post originally appeared on GlassDoor.

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