What to do when you have to say, “You’re Fired!!” Last week we looked at whether a Christian should always forgive and never fire, or if there were circumstances that demand terminating an employee.
If you missed last week’s discussion, you can read it here.
Before making the termination decision, the Christian manager needs to have taken appropriate measures to bring an underperformer’s results up to acceptable levels. In the case of suspected fraud or other deception, the Christian manager needs to confirm the offense to a certainty.
This week we’ll look at the decision to terminate and how to handle that dreaded discussion that precedes the words, “You’re Fired!”
1) Know the law.
There are federal, state, and often, local statutes governing the dismissal of an employee. A Christian leader respects man’s law (Romans 13:1-5). In the U.S., under “employment at will” statutes, employers have the right to dismiss employees for any reason except when in violation of anti-discrimination or contract law.
2) Fire early.
My preference is to conduct the termination discussion early in the day and early in the week. The reason is simply so the employee can get busy moving on. I know some managers who prefer to fire employees on a Friday, but I think this just gives the employee a whole weekend to stew and stress-out before they can begin to move on with a job search.
3) Fire in private.
Conduct termination meetings in private. There is no need to embarrass an employee with a public dismissal. Jesus told the disciples to deal with people’s sin in private whenever possible (Matthew 18:15-17).
4) Keep it short.
Get all your facts together beforehand and be prepared to deliver a concise description of the issues. Getting into a long discussion can turn into a debate that ultimately leads to frustration. Solomon said a wise man limits his words and restrains his lips (Proverbs 10:19).
5) Avoid arguing.
Some employees will try to fend off what they know is coming by shifting blame to others, blaming management, or even denying the issues. Avoid arguing with the employee. Arguing only serves to escalate the situation. Remember, Solomon’s advice about a gentle answer turning away wrath (Proverbs 15:1).
6) Offer an option.
In some cases, it may be appropriate to offer an employee the opportunity to resign rather than being fired. The option to resign allows the employee to save face and is most appropriate when the cause of the dismissal is performance related. I am less inclined to make the offer to resign when the termination is “for cause” (theft, falsifying records, etc.).
7) Be prepared.
Know the benefits that are due the employee. Is there accrued vacation time? Carry-over health benefits? Severance pay? Have all the facts and figures readily available to conclude the termination discussion.
8) Be humble and full of grace.
Regardless of the cause of the termination, Christian leaders need to approach an employee termination with humble hearts full of grace. We are saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9) and need to consider how we would want to be treated if the shoe was ever on the other foot (Luke 6:31).
Every manager with employees will eventually face the decision to fire an employee We are commanded to be good stewards, and that includes our businesses as well as our ministries. We are not being good stewards of people’s God-given talents if we allow them to languish in a position that does not fit them well. We are not being good stewards if we allow a deceitful person to squander the resources of the organization.
Being a good steward requires that we be prepared to terminate employees, but when the need arises, we need to reflect a balance between God’s law and God’s grace.
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As always, questions and comments are welcome. What experiences good or bad do you have with terminating employees?
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Category: Skills | Management of Human Resources