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Difficult Conversations

Practical Tactics for Crucial Communication

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The key to handling any difficult conversation successfully is to avoid procrastination. The longer you delay taking action, the harder it becomes. This is why it is so difficult to fire someone. Order a copy of Difficult Conversations and you’ll get a step-by-step template to help you navigate all of your most difficult conversations, including how to fire an employee. Don’t delay—order today and you can start reading right away!

One of the hardest things you will ever have to do as a manager is to fire someone. Even great leaders sometimes struggle with this. It’s an unpleasant task that requires an extremely difficult conversation. Joel’s ebook, Difficult Conversations, provides steps you can take to make it easier.

How to Fire an Employee: 4 Steps

  1. Act quickly, but be prepared. If things are not going well, the employee knows it, even if only subconsciously. The longer the situation drags on, the more uncomfortable it becomes. One of the things that makes a good leader great is the ability to make decisions quickly and confidently. Once you have your notice and severance structure in order, write out a script for the conversation. Rehearse it with a colleague and keep a sheet of bullet points in front of you so that you won’t forget any important points. Schedule a time with the employee and get straight to the point—no small talk
  2. State the facts. Whatever the issues that led to the termination, you should have documentation in writing. You don’t need to recite an entire laundry list of failures, but you do need a written record in case the employee questions your decision now or in the future. An accusation of wrongful termination is a problem you don’t need.
  3. Show compassion. Your employee undoubtedly has some positive qualities or you wouldn’t have hired her in the first place. Now is a good time to let her know the things you do value about her performance. Also, provide her with support that will enable her to move on to what’s next for her, once the initial shock has subsided. If you know of other career opportunities that might be a good fit, this would be a good time to bring them up and offer to write a positive recommendation letter.
  4. Be a good listener. Obviously, this is not going to be a one-way conversation. The employee may have reactions ranging from denial to rage, so be prepared to work through these emotions with her until she can begin to be open to new possibilities.