We can probably all recall our first time firing an employee and quickly pinpoint the ways we wished it had been handled differently. Terminations are tense, anxiety-producing events for many managers and restaurateurs — the pressure to make a clean break and leave no ill will festering while simultaneously avoiding legal landmines is undeniable.
But with a little legwork, it is possible to terminate employees with grace and tact. Here's how.
Review past performance.
Before you do anything, review the employee's recent performance reviews and determine:
• Have you made it clear to the employee over the past several weeks to months that they are underperforming and not meeting expectations?
• Have you initiated an improvement plan and/or corrective action proceedings?
• Did you previously give the employee a finite timeline for improvement as well as specific behavioral and/or measurable performance goals to meet?
If your documentation reflects the employee's failure to comply with or meet certain standards despite your consistent communication and attempts to remedy the situation, and you have fulfilled the requirements listed on the involuntary termination checklist, then you should have a solid basis to begin termination proceedings.
If not, you need to start the paper trail now for a possible future termination. It's a step that simply can't be skipped. It's worth noting, though, that if there is a serious violation of a zero-tolerance policy, such as a physical altercation, theft, or harassment, then a file full of past performance documentation isn't always necessary. Timely handling of these sensitive situations is warranted (i.e. immediate termination) and will help avoid any further negative impact on the team's morale, productivity, and turnover rates.
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