“You’re Fired!” (How To Let People Go With Class)

How IT managers can fire people with class
How IT managers can fire people with class

Ouch! one of the worst parts about being an IT manager is when it comes time to fire someone. It really doesn’t matter if the person truly deserves it or this is one of those “cut 10% from every department” exercises. Handling the situation where staff decides to leave by themselves is hard enough, this just makes a manager’s life that much more complicated. Some companies have training for their IT managers on how to handle this part of their job correctly; however, most just leave it up to the individual managers to learn how to do it over time.

If we can agree that there is no easy way to turn somebody that you work with’s life upside down, then at least we can take a moment and talk about a few guidelines for how you can terminate people with some measure of class for both you and them.

  • Best Time To Fire Someone: hands down it’s best done at the end of the day. Most often the person is going to be in shock and will need time alone to deal with what has just happened to them. Going home is better than sitting around at work. Additionally, if they need to clean out their desk, then they don’t have to put up with EVERYONE dropping by to tell them how sorry they are for them / glad that it wasn’t them.
  • Have A Good Reason For The Firing: Being fired is hard enough for IT professionals, but not being given a reason for your termination seems to make it 10x worse. A weak excuse like “I was told to fire you” or something like that is no better having no good reason.
  • Do The Firing Face-To-Face: The IT industry is full of really bad ways to fire people using technology. Bad examples include leaving voicemails telling people that they’ve been let go and sending termination notices out via email. As much as it hurts to deliver this news in person, it is really the right way to do it.

One of the best ways of thinking about why it’s important to do a good job of firing people was said by Bob Wilson who is the Chief Human Resources Officer for Elliott Davis: “We never want to lose sight of the fact that the person is forever an alumni.” Amen to that brother.