How to let them go…
By Tracy Yandow
There are a lot of positives to being a manager of a restaurant; letting someone go is not one of them. For some it can be a moment of dread, procrastination, and denial – all of which are neither productive nor fair to the employee or the rest of the staff. The good news is that there are strategies that can make this a much smoother process that you don’t have to be scared of. Below are ways to make this process manageable:
• Be prepared. Ensuring that you have been documenting a new hire’s performance from the beginning of his or her employment will provide you a foundation for the termination should it occur.
• No surprises. If the employee is surprised, you haven’t done your job. No employee should ever be “shocked” when they’re let go. As a manager, it’s your job to offer feedback for improvement to employees as needed. By the time you have to fire someone, you should have gone through verbal feedback, written warnings, action plans, etc., so that the person is almost “ready” to be let go.
• Day off with pay. Offer a “D-Day” or “Job Decision Day”. Tell the employee to take his or her next scheduled day off with pay for a “D-Day”. Ask him or her to be prepared on the following day to make one of two choices: 1) To improve in all areas where he or she is lacking; or 2) To accept termination. If the employee opts for improvement, set very specific goals with deadlines.
• Be direct – to the point. Don’t mix the good with the bad. Many managers make the mistake of being too nice when letting someone go. They feel guilty, so they try to sugarcoat it: “Well, John, you really were good with the customers, but unfortunately your inability to arrive on time outweighs the positives.” That sends a mixed message and may confuse the employee. When firing someone, just get to the point.
• Keep it quiet. Firing someone is a traumatic experience, and the temptation is to want to talk about it with others. Don’t. Don’t look for support; don’t try to rationalize it to other managers or your other employees. Talking about it is not only unprofessional, but it could pave the way for a libel lawsuit against your company.
• Control your anger. Often, managers wait too long before firing someone, letting anger and frustration build up. These emotions are likely to surface if the employee starts to question your decision. Be ready for this, and remain professional. Present your facts and documentation, and don’t argue with the employee.
– Adapted from Leading for Results newsletter
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