The “Karmically Correct” Way to Lay Off an Employee
I have the great privilege of working with entrepreneurs and big business owners. I love offering them spiritual solutions for their problems, solutions that consider the best interests of all people involved with the problem.
One challenge that is often brought to session is that of firing an employee. Because many businesses are letting people go now, I wanted to offer anyone in the unlucky position of having to fire an employee the "karmically correct" way to lay off an employee.
1. Before you let them go, take responsibility for how you and your management team have shown up. Most likely the economic shift has helped you to see your team more clearly by shining a bright light on the employees who are not necessarily doing a good job. Obviously you want these low producers off your team; they waste time and cost you more money.
Before you let them go, however, I want you to consider what you have taught this employee, the feedback you and your management have given to them and your own personal follow-through. Ask yourself the following questions: Have we given this person appropriate feedback about their work ethics and productivity? Have we followed through with them in the areas in which we knew they were struggling? Did we give them time enough to show their capacity to change?
If you have been as clear as possible and followed through, then their time has come. If you feel a twinge of guilt because you know that you and your management team have not fulfilled your obligation to teach your employee about their position, at that point you should consider some other possibility.
One client of mine decided to fire their lowest producing staff member and hire him as a freelancer. This client took care of himself by letting go of someone who was costing him more than the salary he was paying him, but felt good about giving this person an opportunity to work their way back into good standing. It was a fair decision and one that everyone felt good about.
2. Let them walk with dignity. If, after taking responsibility, you decide to let them go, let them walk away with their dignity. Believe me when I say that you want to be certain that anyone you let go walks away with their head held as high as possible. We tend to remember for a great long time how people make us feel -- so do not yell, scream, belittle or try to teach them anything at that moment. Stick to the facts. If they get heated, just stick to the facts and be as clear as possible! You still have your job. They have just been fired -- and they have enough to deal with. Consider doing this at a time between their shifts, or in a quiet moment when they will not need to interact with any of their still-employed ex co-workers.
Also, you never know when someone will cross your path again. If you find yourself wanting to teach them a lesson -- go back to number one: check your ego at the door and take accountability. Karma says that you receive the consequences for your actions, and those actions include our approach. Two actions done with a different approach are not weighed the same.
3. Be truthful with your team. As a business owner, when everyone is on the clock it is you against them. Whether you like it or not, your employees talk to each other and the last employee to be fired can have a great influence of your remaining staff. Instead of being reactive, be proactive and let your team know who got fired and why. Remember that truth builds trust. The more your employees trust you, the higher their morale will be. You can also use this meeting as an opportunity to remind your team of your vision and discuss with them what you are expecting from them at this time.
4. Define changing roles. I imagine a quarterback would not be happy if he were told that he needed to play the role of defensive lineman in addition to his current duties. Why? Because that is not what is outlined in the terms of his contract. Now, if you were going to pay him more, or if you were going to give him additional training and coaching and re-sign his contract so that his new role was clearly defined, he might just agree. I am sure that his agent would also remind you that his skill sets are within his ability to be a championship winning quarterback, not a defensive lineman.
This means that even though you were asking him to, you cannot expect him to be as great as the defensive lineman who is a natural at controlling the line of scrimmage. The reality is that it will take a lot of work on the quarterback's part to excel as a defensive lineman, and his ability to thrive as a quarterback would be compromised as a result. Do you see where I am going with this? Obviously not to ESPN!
This would not happen in football, but it happens in business all the time. I know because I also work with high-ranking employees in big businesses.
As an employer, you need to ensure that all of your team's roles are clearly defined. Your employees are not responsible for meeting your needs; they are responsible for doing the job that you hired them to do to the best of their ability. If you are going to add responsibility to their job as you fire other people, make certain you are clear about this, make certain what you are asking is fair and make doubly certain you are rewarding these individuals in the ways they most appreciate -- more money or more time. Believe me, the last thing you want is a big producing employee dissatisfied with you.
I hope this helps you stay in alignment with the Universe as you meet your challenges at work. Remember that good karma comes in many forms; sometimes it is found in the negative consequences you do not experience because of a good choice you made. And, no matter what is happening in this economy, Universal Laws remain consistent. Use any down time to clean up what is not working. You and your business will be much better off as a result.