How to Let Go of Employees With Love and Dignity
Learning to love our customers is critical to the success of any business. It's equally important to love your employees. And, with this, comes some painful situations. Unfortunately, part of having our employees includes the possibility of letting some go. Keeping your love on, as my friend Danny Silk says in his book Keep Your Love On: Connection Communication and Boundaries, makes a big difference in the workplace.
There are many reasons people need to be let go. It will take faith, on your part, believing it is best for everyone. Don't forget to have faith, as well, that you'll do well. For some that might involve praying ahead of time for the entire situation. It doesn't mean that every situation will be easy -- far from it. But you will feel your best when you're not erring on the side of overly familiar or just getting 'politically correct' in the workspace.
Here's how to handle layoffs, terminations and letting go of employees with both love and honor, depending on the circumstance:
Culture cuts. Every company has a culture, whether you know it or not. Hopefully yours isn't filled with cliques and immaturity. A culture is the glue. It's what you determine is most important and nonnegotiable in the company. When someone is hired who doesn't fit into your culture, be willing to let them go elsewhere. There's no need to discredit them, or act like they'll never be able to find success in someone else's soil. Put a great worker in a wrong culture and even they can go downhill fast. Be willing to let people grow -- even when it's not in your soil.
Related: Why Faith Belongs In Your Workplace
Wrong-fit hires. This is when you hire the wrong person. They are a big mistake on the part of the hiring team in your organization. Whether someone falsified their resume and knows how to play a role really well or maybe the team members interviewing wanted someone to fit a role so much they completely overlooked the warning signs -- whatever reason, someone got past the hiring gate keepers and got into your company. It should NOT happen and it costs the company money when it does. Make the exit as quick and painless as possible. No need to be degrading, intimidating or obnoxious about it. Love your employees and let them go. It's best for you AND for them. Zappos actually offers $2,000 cash if the person who doesn't fit will leave on their own.
Termination by fault. This is when you hire an employee or contractor who cannot fulfill their assigned tasks and you both know it. They've been with you for quite some time and for whatever reason, they're sinking fast. The important thing is to remember that everyone has their issues, including the HR manager, CEO and executive team, but there comes a time when disciplinary actions must be taken. If someone is falsifying their time card, spending work hours on YouTube, comes into work intoxicated or whatever it is, you can't let a culture become polluted with repeated actions that aren't being corrected. Termination does happen. Do it with honor. Make it kind. Even if you have to walk someone out of the building with the security team, do it with the least amount of emotion and abrasion possible. Then, go spend time with your team. Encourage the other team members. Have faith that everyone will be OK, the person leaving will be OK and it won't have long-term effects. Attitudes are more contagious than anything, so be careful what you are passing around the office.
Downsizing. It's important to remember that your employees care about their life, their paycheck and their family more than they care about your company. Don't expect them to have the CEO's burden for profits, plans and company challenges. If you have to let someone go, do everything you can to make the transition as smooth as possible. If it's in the company budget, give a severance check to help out with the next week or two. If it's not, make sure that you never forget, it happens to the best of us. This is when I do my best to turn to God to keep my heart strong, my attitude bright and to really care about the people I've had to let go. We reap what we sow in life and it is true within a company as well. Love is always in order.
The best exit strategy is professional, kind and loving. Far too many companies grow sterile when they have to let someone go. Even if an employee is upset or hurt by the dismissal, everyone will benefit if love is the focus. It might not make sense right now, but in the long term, the memory will be much different than being cold. Love works and faith belongs in the marketplace. Don't be afraid to show you care. It matters.
Related: The Right Way to Fire Someone