Need to fire a tech? Be sure to do this first

There are a lot of qualified IT professionals out there, but that doesn’t mean they’ll all work out for your company. If it’s just not working and you need to let one go, here’s one step you should always take: Put yourself in a jury’s shoes. 

In the Harvard Business Review, Dick Grote, a management consultant, recommended this hack.

Think about the personnel decision as if it’s being weighed in court. What could be misinterpreted as retaliation or discrimination? Are there mitigating factors that make your decision seem less cut-and-dried than it is?

This step could help in another way, too. It boils things down to the very heart of the issue of why the employee is being let go.

A termination should be handled in matter-of-fact terms. If you find yourself saying things like, “It just wasn’t working out,” or “She just wasn’t a good fit,” that can be easily misinterpreted by the fired employee and the co-workers he or she leaves behind.

On the other hand, if you have specific examples of how the employee failed to meet the job’s requirements, the decision will be more easily understood. That won’t make it any easier for those affected, but it will make it a little clearer and less open to rumor or misinterpretation.

And then be sure to give the employee a chance to process and respond. Once they have, explain what happens next (with unused vacation, final checks, etc.) and end it graciously.

Oh, just one more thing … Be sure to revoke credentials to all your services immediately. Even if the above steps are followed and everything seems to have gone OK, you don’t want to find out later that someone’s been monkeying around with your systems or data.

  • Well, yes, I’ve fired a lot of people. Generally I like other people to fire, because it’s always a lousy task. But I have fired many people.
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