Sometimes the individual you believed could run your organization is not the right fit or under-performed against expectations.
If that is the case, then make sure to avoid firing the employee in similar fashion as the National Football League's Philadelphia Eagles and Cleveland Browns franchises.
The Eagles failed to inform players that their head coach, Chip Kelly, was fired, and the rest of the world knew about it (through social media) before they did.
The Browns did not even have the wherewithal to directly tell others within the front office that the franchise's head coach and general manager had been terminated. According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam informed coaches that head coach Mike Pettine and general manager Ray Farmer farmer were fired via email.
Inform the Organization
The biggest issue with how the Eagles and Browns handled their respective firings is that they failed to address the entire organization prior to the layoffs. The Eagles surprised its players with coach Chip Kelly's firing, while the Browns did not properly prepare other coaches who may remain with the organization.
As Silicon Valley entrepreneur Ben Horowitz says in his book, The Hard Thing About Hard Things, "The message is for the people who are staying. The people who stay will care deeply about how you treat their colleagues."
Kelly, Pettine and Farmer undoubtedly have close relationships with the players and coaches that will remain with the Eagles and Browns. Those relationships are likely tighter than any relationship between team owner and remaining coach or player.
There should be an appropriate level of respect in the firing of important employees like a coach or general manager. Not informing other key individuals such as players signed to multi-million dollar contracts or the coaches tasked with leading them to future success can breed disgust among the employees who remain.
Be Visible and Present
Firing a head coach or general manager of an NFL team is no easier nor harder than letting go an important manager or chief executive at a big business in another industry. It requires the decision-maker to be present, visible and engaging during awkward moments surrounding the firing.
"People want to see you. They want to see whether you care," says Horowitz. "The people whom you laid off will want to know if they still have a relationship with you and the company. Talk to people. Help them carry their things to their cars. Let them know that you appreciate their efforts."
Hiding behind a computer screen and not making yourself present to the employees who will be tasked with pushing forward the mission of your company is bad tact and can lead to a destructive corporate atmosphere.
Eagles and Browns ownership should have used the uncomfortable situation of firing high level employees to show that they truly care about the organization and as an opportunity to inspire their players and coaches for the future.
Lack of information and dissemination of such important news via email fails at the important task of keeping the team together during tough times.