How to Fire One of Your Team Members: The Justifications, Logistics, and Processes
You know that one person on your team? The one you’re merely tolerating and keeping around only because you don’t know what to do with them?
We’ve all had team members like that. There comes a time when they’re putting a financial and emotional burden on you and your law firm and you need to let them go.
You may have someone in mind right now or you may have had to do this in the past and wish it had gone better. Well, today we’ll cover all the bases so you are prepared the next time you need to fire a team member.
Causes for Firing A Team Member
There are lots of different reasons for firing team members. One of the most common is lack of business. For example, during COVID many employees were laid off as their companies just couldn’t support the people they had before.
Another reason is an egregious cause. When a team member does something that’s so far out or obvious that they cannot continue in your workplace, they obviously need to be fired.
Finally, many team members are laid off for cause, just not an egregious cause. The cause could be as basic or mundane as it’s not a good fit. Maybe you shouldn’t have hired them in the first place but it took a little while for you to figure that out.
The key here is to give the employee fair warning before firing them. If they’re underperforming, let them know. It can be hard to have confrontational meetings where you tell a team member what they’re doing wrong but what’s more uncomfortable is firing someone who has no clue why they’re being fired. Whatever you can do to set clear expectations and give them the opportunity to succeed will be beneficial to you and to them.
This is also an excellent opportunity to take a look at how the team number has been managed. Have they been given clear expectations? Are you having conversations to correct their behavior? Are you doing all the things that you said they should be doing? If not, then that’s something that you’re going to need to correct. You don’t want to be the cause of underperformance.
The Logistics of Firing Someone
Before having a conversation with your team member about firing them, you need to get some logistics in order. Consider the following.
Look at what’s best for your organization as a whole and what treats the team member with respect. This will help you come up with the right timing for firing them.
- Always be marketing for all positions
Make a new policy that says you are always going to be marketing for everybody’s position. Then, if somebody leaves, it doesn’t leave you in a lurch. Make sure your team is aware of this policy so they don’t find their position on a job board and freak out.
- The equipment
The team member you’re firing may have some equipment. Logistically, it’s super easy to tell them to take their laptop, phone, and whatever else they have to the nearest FedEx store and give them your account number. Then you’ll be charged for the box and the shipping. You could also offer the team member money to return their equipment.
You need to arrange when to lock the team member out of your firm’s software. Ideally, this should happen while you’re having the conversation with them. Don’t let them find out they’re getting fired because they can’t get into the software that morning. Instead, if you can have somebody lock them out while you’re having the conversation with them, that would be ideal.
Having the Conversation
Once all the logistics are arranged, you actually have to fire the person. During this conversation, make sure you have a reason prepared. However, keep it short and sweet. Usually, just saying that they’re not a good fit is enough reason. If you’ve had continuous problems with this person, clearly point back to the reason for firing them.
After this conversation, announce what happened to the rest of your team. Don’t let rumors start spreading. Simply announce it to the rest of the team and then talk about the plan for taking over the team member’s responsibilities.
If you want to learn more about firing a team member, check out Episode 058: How to Fire Someone on Your Team.