The dismissal of an Employee

Having to fire people is always ugly. Dismissing someone means breaking a professional relationship and leaving the person in a tormented situation.

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The dismissal manifests the worst feelings that human beings have: fear, rejection, failure and humiliation. Given that, the managers responsible for firing can perform the act in a way that softens the blow. As someone very wise told me, “the dismissal is already ugly, but the way you communicate it does not have to be.” 


When starting to think about the difficult conversation that has to occur when making the decision to separate an employee from the business, we must first take into account the context of the dismissal. If the person leaves due to low performance, the news of their separation should not come as a surprise.


If someone does not give up, there should be a formal feedback process in which the person recognizes their underperformance and is allowed to take corrective action in the areas where they fail. In the best cases the notice comes in written form. The manager and the person develop a plan together. When possible, it is important to have KPIs (key performance indicators) or metrics that show whether the person is complying with the plan or not.


In case the person does not reach the established goals, the conversation of their departure must begin before the official notification. In this way the person has time to prepare their departure. In many cases, a person who is aware of not meeting their objectives takes proactive measures to find new employment, because few are the people who can be happy to not meet their objectives.


In these cases when the difficult conversation arrives, it is important to differentiate if the failure was the result of lack of effort or something else: many times the person fails because their skills are not suitable for the job indicated: keep a person in a position that does not favor Their strengths are to hurt the person, since their strengths are the raw material of their success in the long term. It is important to emphasize that the person should look for opportunities that are complementary to their strengths, since it is the safest route to professional success.