How to let go of an employee
August 14, 2013

It may not be a reality most accounting and bookkeeping firm owners ever want to face, but sometimes employees aren't the best fit for the company and therefore have to be let go. Perhaps the worker completed an unforgivable act or maybe they just simply weren't working out for more minor reasons. Letting go of a staff member might also come in the form of a layoff if the business isn't doing well financially. 

Regardless of why an employee needs to be let go, there should be a process for doing so. Sure, it might be a little more common for conversations to get emotional if the worker in question is being fired for doing something terrible, but the basic script should be the same across the board. In most cases, the worker won't want to burn bridges and neither does the accounting firm. 

To make sure this goes smoothly, as tough as it might be to let go of a member of your team, there are a number of steps business leaders should take when sitting down to fire or lay off an employee.

Be kind, but firm
Again, so that bridges aren't burned, the leader should remain respectful and kind during this meeting. That said, when the decision has been made, they need to stick to it.

Likeable Leadership's Dave Kerpin told Inc. Magazine that he once had to fire an employee who begged him for almost an hour to stay on staff. Kerpin ended up conceding, which he said was the wrong move and actually made things worse. 

This is not a decision to take lightly, so outline to the employee why he or she is being let go, make it crystal clear and then move on. The owner should never be mean, but should let the individual know that this decision is set in stone.

Keep it private
While it is appropriate to let employees know that the worker in question is no longer a member of the staff, that should be held off until after the individual has left.

This means that when the actual conversation is being held, there shouldn't be an audience. It might be appropriate to have the worker's direct manager or a member of human resources attend the meeting, but by no means should a termination be done in public.

Take a lesson on what not to do from AOL CEO Tim Armstrong. According to ABC News, when an employee took a picture of Armstrong during a conference call, the individual, Abel Lenz, was fired immediately "in front of" everyone else on the call - approximately 1,000 people. 

Nexus: G-WEBCD1