Were halfway to spring cleaning, and sometimes you just need to make a change.
But, there is a right way and a wrong way to fire someone and it reflects who you are as a leader of people, not just a businessperson. Even many highly successful business leaders get this wrong but you shouldn't - success is not a substitute for decency.
I have watched my portfolio company CEOs hire and fire hundreds of people and these are five strategies that I have picked up for doing it right from some of the best ones.
You should give the person signals that there is a problem, and they need to correct it, for some time before making a change. Often, they won't correct the behavior and after that there is no need to over-wait. But everyone deserves to see the signal of what is coming and your other employees will also notice it and appreciate you for it.
2) Do It Politely and Privately
You should never humiliate someone when letting them go. This includes the obvious and indefensible strategy of doing it at their desk but it also concludes the classic "summon in the office" strategy. That person must then walk out among their colleagues and very few people can summon full composure in those situations. It's better to go to a private area or to a coffee, explain thoroughly and calmly the reasoning, and give the person time and space to adjust before they have to return to their colleagues.
3) Offer to Help
When you fire someone, you are putting them into a state of uncertainty. If they are fired for cause, of course, this is a different story, but if it is a different issue, perhaps one of fit, you should help if you can. There is a sheath for every sword and you should help them find their place. It's the decent thing to do, and your other employees will certainly hear about it and appreciate it.
4) Be Honest but Kind
When someone asks why, you should tell them. They will appreciate the honesty and it will help them correct. However, you should do this politely and calmly rather than in an accusatory manner. If someone feels they are being attacked while let go - that is the worst combination of all.
5) Treat Them How You Would Want to Be Treated
Everyone gets fired in their lives. Imagine how you would want it to happen - and do that.