How to fire an employer: short guide
January 24, 2020

Team Management

How to fire an employee? Recommendations for small companies

By Alexander Sergeev

“It is not kindness but weakness and embarrassment that keep us in most cases from dismissal of a person, who is clearly unsuitable for the job and poison the overall atmosphere”.

Hans Selye

“The people who ruin your life are not the people whom you fired, but those whom you didn’t”.

Harvey Mackay

Every manager knows that a good employee quits and the bad one is fired. The expression “bad employee” does not necessarily mean incompetent or lazy, disrespectful, undisciplined, etc. Sometimes it happens that the employee works fine, but you don’t like him – and that’s it. Maybe he spoils your mood: he has an unpleasant expression on his face, unpleasant voice, sweaty hands, he (she) is badly dressed, too made ​​up, speaks too much (too loud) on the phone – it doesn’t matter what causes the desire to get rid of this man.

But the desire is only half of the battle. Then the most unpleasant begins with the dismissal process.

If you are a thick-skinned, not sensitive person, if you have a sharp, explosive temper, the dismissal of an employee does not represent any difficulty for you:

– Sorry, but you do not fit us.

– You do not cope with the work, so we have to fire you.

– You have five minutes to leave the office!

This is an ideal variant, but it rarely happens. There are objective and subjective reasons, which do not always allow the boss to fire someone.

What are these reasons?

Labor code

There are no troubles with the two to three weeks delay, reserved by law for the execution of the verdict.

Possible (though unlikely) complications:

The dismissed can take the bit between his teeth, i.e. will not leave quietly and without any incidents. For example, he will start to looking for violations of the law in your actions to appeal to the court for wrongful dismissal.

In this case, you need to cool down and not act under the influence of emotions, albeit completely justified.

You cannot find out or know what is in another person’s soul, what he thinks, what kind of person he is. The appearance of your demure employee can actually hide crazy maniac and whistleblower. Do you need problems or litigations? We don’t think so. After all, no matter who will be the winner, you’ll still spend a lot of time, money and nerves.

One solution of this problem:

If the dismissed refuses to leave or require unimaginable monetary compensation, it is more reasonable to leave him at the same workplace.

Just leave?
Just leave.

And then use the classical scheme of “Italian strike” against the very striker. One of the varieties of “Italian strike” is when the staff does not leave the work and continue to perform it, but with one amendment – all the workers begin to scrupulously comply with all the official instructions. A truck driver refuses to carry the goods, if at least one item of the safety instruction is broken, even the most insignificant one. An employee leaves the office exactly at 17.00 (as concluded in the contract) and not a minute later, even if his presence at the meeting with a delegation of foreign investors at 17.15 is vital. A guard of a company refuses to let the CFO in the office, even if he has a justifiable reason: he has forgotten his official badge at home. The guard operates strictly according to the instruction, even though he knows the faces of all the employees. And so on.

The result of this strike is complete paralysis of the company. But formally there is no strike, they just do their work.

In your situation, actions may include the following:

If you pay the employee an official and an unofficial part of the salary, start paying as much as stated in the documents. If the stated salary is one hundred dollars – pay one hundred. He will no one to complain at, nothing to live on, so soon he’ll voluntarily relieve you of his presence.

or:

You personally or through managers begin to totally control the employee: record the time of his coming to work to the nearest minute, watch his return from lunch, looking at your watch, maintain a strict accounting of the tasks assigned to him, reflect any deviation from the required quality of work or timing in the documents, talk to him only in the form of orders. Other staff will quickly understand that having a relationship with the leper means to immediately hurt yourself. The employee will appear in the absolute vacuum.

The result:

A week later, you will have enough compromising material for a completely legitimate dismissal, and no court will help the employee. But it’s unlikely to come to the trial. Hardly anyone will be able to withstand such a long administrative and psychological pressure. The undesirable employee will soon surrender and quit.

Compassion

You are not an insensitive man and firing people is not easy. Why?

Because this useless, incompetent, undisciplined employee has a family and you’ll leave the innocent wife and children without sustenance.

or:

We are talking about a veteran of the organization, who has been working for five (ten, twenty) years and it’s not easy to throw him into the street.

or:

Although the employee doesn’t cope with his, he’s a very good person, everyone in a team likes him.

Recommendation:

Calculate how much of your own money (or the money of the company) you lose leaving a person you do not really need. Pick up a calculator and multiply it by twelve-monthly salary (do not forget to add tax and social security contributions).

Perhaps after receipt of the final figures, your compassion to the dismissed will not only reduce significantly but even turn into resentment or at least pity to lose money, which you will surely find the best application.

However, if you want to be generous, you can pay the employee severance pay. This will cost you much cheaper than paying an unearned salary monthly.

“He knows too much”

A simple example from a familiar businessman: “Once I fired an accountant and two weeks later a delegation from the tax office came to me to make an unplanned check. Strange coincidence! Moreover, the guys obviously knew where to dig and what to look for”.

or:

He has influential patrons

You may not know that a candidate for dismissal is a relative or acquaintance of a senior official. If you know it, the situation is not getting better.

In any case, you should leave peacefully so that the dismissed employees do not tell everyone bad things about you and your company, do not try to settle scores (example with an accountant) and do not add more problems.

Ideally, an employee should quit without violence, administrative and psychological coercion. To do this you need to be careful and to put in his mind the idea of looking for another job.

“Our ship is sinking!”

You can tell the employee in a confidential conversation that it’s a hard period for the company and “anything can happen”. The next month all costs will be cut, the wages reduced, vacations canceled and the working day increased. And give a strong friendly advise to look for another job “until it is too late”. Sometimes it works and the employees prefer to get-away from the sinking ship as quickly as possible.

If an employee does not follow your advice, you can delay the payment of his salary for two weeks or even a month. To remain without money is an ordeal for any person. But you have nothing to blame, the owner of a company always loses most of all in a crisis. And everyone knows that business is unpredictable, one day everything is fine and the next day the company is closed.

By the way, it can be useful if the dismissed learns that the salaries of other staff were paid on time. His possible behavior: resentment and voluntary resignation.

But this method does not always work. There are employees who are so hanging on to their place that they are willing to endure any financial hardship. In this case, the following method can be applied:

Go I know not whither and fetch I know not what

Your task is to find a valid reason for the dismissal of an employee, to make him realize that he did not cope with the work.

So, you load the victim with the work in double, triple volume, force him to work on the weekends. In a very short time, a voluntary quit will seem the best way out of this nightmare for your employees.

You give an employee a task, which he obviously can not cope with because of the lack of professional experience or because the problem itself is too difficult (if not impossible).

For example, if you want to dismiss a marketing manager responsible for sales, you can improve the plan dramatically, as well as require a speedy conclusion of agreements with the unattainable, but desirable customers and clients.

If the employee cope with the impossible mission, then fine. Maybe then the need for dismissal will simply disappear.
If the miracle does not happen, then you’ll get a formal cause to say with sympathy: “Sorry, but you can see yourself that you can not cope with this work”.

“Remember that we have a long reach”

If there is no way to leave peacefully, take measures to neutralize the possible hostile actions of the dismissed.

Sometimes preventive intimidation works.

If the dismissed is an accountant, key manager or any other person who has access to the closed (i.e. compromising you and your company’s structure) information, it should be explained that, if within a few months after his dismissal the unwanted guests from the regulatory authorities come, you’ll do an immediate conclusion: they came on a tip of the employee. Then, depending on your temperament and eloquence tell the employee, what reaction from your side or from your kind but aggressive friends will follow these actions. It does not matter if these people exist in reality or not. The main thing is to be a convincing, truly frightening man.

But it’s still better to leave without quarrels and threats. To do this, use your own techniques or methods described above.

Use a villain

Generally speaking, it’s highly recommended for the head of any company to get your own “villain”. Who is this? This is a man with a strong character, not prone to self-pity. It is possible that he even enjoys causing troubles to others.

“Villains” are extremely useful for negotiating with suppliers and vendors, whom they can lead to such a state that they are happy to sell their goods without any profit just to get rid of them. But they are the most useful in managing a team, like “bad cop – good cop”.

To enable the “villainous method” in full, you must first build a large hierarchical pyramid with an almost insurmountable distance between the managers and ordinary employees. Let your employees know that they are punished or fired from your deputy. In this case, he’ll demonstrate who’s the “number two” man here once again, because he almost certainly will ascribe the initiative of punishment to himself.

Of course, it may happen that one day you will want to get rid of the villain. One day – but not today? So do not run ahead. As Scarlet O’Hara said: “You’ll think of it tomorrow”.

Out of sight out of mind

Do not turn the dismissal process into a long-lasting agony. Do not wait for “two weeks” or month. What is the use of an employee who thinks about anything except of his work? You also have to take precautions to limit his access to important information.

Give the employee a day to leave the office. Pay him severance pay for the entire month, even if he has worked for two weeks only. This is not generosity, it is a payment for the peace of your mind and “good reputation”. It is not necessary to increase the number of enemies by the dismissed. It will cost you less than to please your ego: “Why should I pay the unearned money to such a parasite!”.
If you really dismiss a parasite, pay him even more. And let him disappear immediately, in this second, forever.

Recommendations

Do not listen to the assurances of the dismissed that “everything will be okay, you know me”. This person absolutely does not care about what will happen to you and your firm after his dismissal. He has one desire – to leave without delay and problems (if he quits on his own initiative). It may be wrong to think that he leaves things in order. He may know that things are not okay, but it’s obvious that he has no desire to put them in order or to admit his mistakes and deficiencies. Anyway, you’ll know the truth only when there will be no one to blame.

There are two ways to prevent such problems:

1. If the dismissed is an accountant, administrator, a senior manager of a long-term project, responsible for relations with major clients, then delay his final salary for such a period during which the gross flaws and problems can theoretically climb out.

If it’s an accountant, pay him money only after the next check of the supervisors. If everything is in order, then after two or three months the former employee will receive his salary plus a bonus for the delay. If not, then you’ll leave the money as moral compensation. Moral but not material – because the caused damage is often much larger than all their salaries and bonuses combined.

2. Do not dismiss a key worker until you hire a new employee on his post and he will not accept everything. If the new person is an experienced specialist and does not want to complicate his life in a new job with other people’s problems, he will try to find all the negative things. To be safe, you can optionally assign a trusted employee to control this process not to miss any mistakes.

And the final tip. Do not lose sight of the dismissed employees. Why? Because people responsible for your losses and problems shouldn’t be unpunished.

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