Saying Goodbye Is Hard To Do: How To Fire Employees

by drjim on October 13, 2016

Knowing how to let employees go is a key part of being a successful IT manager

Knowing how to let employees go is a key part of being a successful IT manager
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I’d be willing to bet that there are a number of different IT manager tasks that none of us really enjoy doing and that we’ve never really had any IT manager training on how to do correctly. There is that end-of-year employee evaluation that takes so much time to do, there are perhaps weekly time cards that need to be filled out, etc. However, I’d be willing to bet that the #1 thing that we all hate to do is to fire members of our team. It turns out that this is part of the job and we’re expected to have the IT manager skills to do it so we’d better know how to go about doing it correctly.

Do Not Apologize

It is in our very nature to feel sorry for any employee that we are letting go. What this means is that there is a deep need inside of us to tell them that we feel sorry for them and apologize for having to fire them. You don’t want to do this. If you apologize to an employee while you are in the midst of firing them, you are just going to confuse them. Your sympathy while letting them go is going to send them mixed signals. They are going to start to question if the firing was really fair. Trust me on this one, you don’t want this to happen so you are going to have to bite your tongue and not offer any apologies while letting your employee go.

The other thing that you will be tempted to do but which you must resist doing is to offer words of comfort. These can take on many different forms; however, one of the most common is tell the employee “This is going to turn out to be the best thing that could have happened to you.” This is an inappropriate thing to say for a number of different reasons. The primary one is that the employee who is being let go will see the words as coming from someone who still has a job and so they will seem to be insincere no matter how much you really mean them.

What Is The Best Day To Fire Someone On?

When you have decided that an employee has to go, the next big question that you are going to have to deal with is just exactly when you are going to let them go. The work week has five days in it: which one will be the best one to fire someone on? In an ideal world, we’d all be able to agree on a given day and that would become the universally accepted “layoff day”. However, that’s not going to happen.

In the world of IT managers, there is no agreement on what day of the week is the best day to fire an employee. If you decide to do it on a Friday, then the employee leaving will be less dramatic and the impact on the rest of the team may be less. However, your terminated employee will have the weekend to sit and think dark thoughts. If you choose to let the employee go on a Monday, then you will be providing them with an opportunity to get a jump on their search for their next job, but it will also make it obvious that their calendar had been cleared in order to let them go. So what’s the right answer? Don’t delay. When you know that you are going to let someone go, just move quickly and get it over with.

What All Of This Means For You

Being an IT manager is a tough job. There are parts of it that are tougher than other parts and one such part is when it comes time to let a member of your team go. As with all such things in life, this can be very easy to do the wrong way. What is the right way to go about doing it?

One of the most important things that you need to keep in mind is to not apologize for letting the person go while you are firing them. This can cause unwanted confusion for them. Additionally, try to avoid saying comforting things because they will probably come across as being insincere. We’d all like to know what day of the week is the best day to let someone go. It turns out that there is no one day that is better than any other – they all have both their advantages and their disadvantages. When you know that you’re going to let someone go, the best thing to do is to just do it. This is not the time to be working on your IT team building skills.

The reason that your company employs you as an IT manager is because they believe that you are good at what you do. Part of your job assignment is to be the person who will reduce your team when it becomes necessary to do so. Learn how to do this difficult task well and your value to the company will only increase.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: When you are letting someone go, should you make sure that you have a witness or will this be too disturbing for everyone involved?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

I have a number of friends who are IT managers at Verizon. The other day Verizon announced that they were going to go through a round of layoffs and they were going to be targeting 6,000 current employees. You can only imagine the level of chaos that this caused. It does bring up an interesting question, assuming that your job is not going away and that you’ve never had any IT manager training on how to deal with this situation, what is an IT manager to do when the company is laying people off left and right?

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