Termination Techniques: How to Approach Firing Someone

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Firing employees is an unfortunate part of a managerial position in a bar or nightclub, and it’s never easy. Follow these experts’ tips for making the termination process easier on yourself, the employee being let go, and your business.

Techniques from Joseph Campagna II, principal with My Virtual HR Director:

  • Termination for cause should never be a surprise to an employee
  • Usually, an informal conversation with an employee will put him or her on notice and often improve the situation. This is a first step known as the verbal warning. Even though it's verbal, you should still write a short memo about the meeting. That memo should go in the employee's file, but also email it to your HR person, or if you don't have one, your accountant. This puts a time stamp on it so you can prove it happened when you say it happened.
  • If an advance conversation doesn't correct the problem, then a formal write up or corrective action notice will document that you have given the employee a chance to improve. This may sound like overkill when an employee deserves to be fired, but barring an egregious issue like theft, this process will either keep you from being sued or save you when you are sued.
  • Try to meet with employees before or after their shift when they can't create too much of a disruption with other employees and to provide more privacy. Another person, either from management or administration, should be included in the meeting as a witness.
  • Always be honest with the employees about why they are being terminated. For example, if someone is being fired for poor customer service, don't try to soften the blow by saying it’s not a good fit, or that it’s for financial reasons. If you do that, the employee may assess ulterior motives, such as discrimination. And since you didn't tell the truth about their performance, you cannot then introduce it as a defense in a lawsuit.

From Richard Hadden, managing partner of Contented Cows Partners, and a workplace expert, author and speaker who specializes in employee engagement and leadership:

  • If your decision is based on performance, make sure you have documented proof the employee knew what was expected, had the tools and opportunity to succeed, and was given time and opportunity to improve.
  • Be thoughtful about how, when, and where you deliver the termination news. Ensure you have effective security measures in place. Think through the possibilities, particularly the unthinkable ones. Maintain a heightened sense of awareness for a reasonable period after the event if necessary.

From Chantal Bechervaise, founder of Take it Personel-ly:

  • Focus on specific facts and don’t attack the employee as a person. You also need to follow laws specific for your region for notice.

From Jennifer Martin, founder of Zest Business Consulting and a business coach:

  • Gather your thoughts before a termination conversation. Be clear on why you need to let the employee go so you are clear about your talking points during your conversation.
  • When you have your conversation, treat the person you are hiring with respect and consideration, even if he or she was a lousy employee. Their immaturity shouldn’t affect your professionalism.
  • Be authentic. If firing someone is difficult for you, be honest about that: tell the employee you are sorry to have to share this information. Most people just want to be acknowledged, respected, and treated with consideration.
  • Don’t make things more difficult than they need to be. Get right to the point – it’s not important that an employee know every little detail. Let them know that sometimes employees are just not a good match.
  • Tell the truth. Let staff know why you are letting them go. This could be doing them a big favor, as they may have no idea that their attitude, commitment, words, or actions may result in a termination at their next job, too.
  • Be clear about what happens next: When you expect them to leave, any benefits they have, returning company items, whether you will provide a letter of recommendation, if you can help with their next job, etc.

For more tips on the administrative side of the bar and nightlife industry, be sure to attend the 2016 Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show. Register between now and February 21 to take advantage of our roll back to Early Bird pricing with the discount code PRESDAY!

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