Topic: Management

Retail Management Tip: Avoid Humiliating Terminated Employees

By Bob Phibbs

I had a high school teacher who told us our term papers were all so bad, we could retrieve them ourselves.

He had placed them in the trash can.

As a retail consultant giving management tips and advice, I can’t imagine doing that to another person these days.

But I did something similar nearly thirty years ago...

I had hired a young woman who I thought was going to be excellent. She worked one day and never came back or called. But she knew when payday was.

Here's my retail management tip... don't do this...

When she came to pick up her check I tossed it to the ground.

Somehow in 1982 it felt good to watch someone have to lower themselves to me. I felt I had to make her know I was upset at her leaving me high and dry.

I've heard managers go on and on detailing how an employee had been terrible for a long time but had "kept them on" in hopes they could change.

When firing someone, unless theft is involved, just admit it isn't a fit. Order the check so you have it in your hands at least a day ahead of time. Call them into your office, have a witness if necessary. Simply say, “Your services are no longer needed,” and be done with it.

You should already have given them two write-ups that required their signature. Hopefully you did an employee review if they were with you more than 60 days.

You don’t need to get into a laundry list of everything this person did. So remain standing and don't invite them to sit down. You don’t need a pound of flesh, you are taking their means of support from them. Nothing more is required.

So many people fear firing someone because of what they might have to go through. If you handle the firing as thoughtful as you handled the hiring, it shouldn't be a big deal.

Here's another retail management tip to avoid humiliating an employee: Don't hire someone you can’t fire; that includes friends and family.

Don’t stoop to the level of pettiness like Radio Shack did two years ago when they fired people by email. Or the big box who called their senior managers into a conference room telling them a few people would be let go by receiving a text during the meeting.

It’s petty, it’s humiliating and its unnecessary. Yet it seems to be on the rise...

In this economy we need to remember our greatest assets are the people we pay to work. That goes from the moment we hire them to the moment we fire them.

You believed in them once, give them the dignity they deserve.

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