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10 Tips For De-Hiring Managers

There are two things that are pretty certain in the job world: The first is that no one likes to be fired; the second is that no one likes to do the firing.

However, there are times when you may have to let one of your managers go; it’s almost inevitable. According to a report released by CareerBuilder.com last year, 74 percent of employers say they had hired the wrong person for a position at least once. The same report cited 66 percent of employees reported being hired for a position only to realize they were a bad fit once they got into the job.

The CareerBuilder.com report says companies lose an average of $14,900 on each bad hire. “Sometimes it’s costlier to keep them,” says John George, vice president of operations at the Pogoda Companies in Farmington Hills, Mich. “It happens when you simply make a mistake.”

When it does happen, there are ways to go through the de-hiring process that may make it better for everyone. Maybe not good, but better.

Here are 10 tips on de-hiring managers:

  1. Hiring and firing go hand in hand. “If you do your due diligence in hiring, you have fewer worries when firing,” says Carol Mixon-Krendl, president of Skilcheck in Lodi, Calif., who admits that sometimes she is hired as a consultant just to go to a facility and fire the manager. “I don’t like it, but there are times the owner just wants the manager out,” says Mixon-Krendl.

    M. Anne Ballard, president of marketing, training and developmental services for Universal Storage Group in Atlanta, Ga., agrees. “The first tip is to hire better to avoid having to de-hire,” says Ballard. “We now give two aptitude tests and do a background check. We hire for attitude and stability; we can train them for the job.”

    Ballard notes that hiring people just because they have storage experience can bring people in with bad habits. “So, we don’t just look at that,” she says.

    Todd Amsdell, president of Compass Self Storage in Cleveland, Ohio, agrees that getting it right in the hiring process is the first tip in the de-hiring process. “We look for team members who wake up every day and feel like they’re blessed to have us,” says Amsdell. “Self-storage management is not for everyone, and they have to have a passion for what they’re doing.”
  2. Prepare for the de-hiring when doing the hiring. “My philosophy in the de-hiring is to plan for it when you do the hiring,” says Scott Zucker, partner at Weismann Zucker Euster Morochnik & Garber, PC in Atlanta, Ga. “It’s like preparing for the divorce when you marry.”

    Zucker recommends having a signed employment agreement that spells out responsibilities and addresses the rights of the terms. The agreement should also state the employment is “at will” of the employer. The agreement should also address what happens to benefits if the person is de-hired or quits. For facilities with resident managers, it should also spell out how long the employee has to vacate the premises.
  3. Do it in private. George recommends doing it in a closed-door office or conference room. Amsdell concurs. “It should be done in a private setting, void of any disruption,” says Amsdell. “The old adage ‘praise in public and criticize in private’ applies here.”

    You should also plan on people being upset. Experts vary on calling in a witness. If your company is big enough for an HR department, you should have HR sit in silently on the meeting. Zucker always recommends having a witness in the room to record what is said, which is particularly helpful if the ex-employee files a complaint with the EEOC.
  4. Pick a time. Experts debate on whether there is a good time to de-hire. George says he does it at the end of the day in order to avoid parading the employee through the office. “A lot of people also don’t think November through December is a good time because of the holidays,” says George. “But it actually is a good time as when this type of thing happens, people tend to reach out to family and friends for emotional comfort and encouragement, and most people can get that through the holidays.”
  5. Be respectful and professional. “You’re dealing with someone’s livelihood,” says Ballard. “And you are the one who hired them. Acknowledge they have worked for you, and realize this may come as a shock, but tell them they are just not a great fit in this position.”
  6. Be honest. “They can tell when you are BSing,” says Ballard. “Either tell them they aren’t a fit for the direction your company is going or, if they violated the company policy, state the company policy and move on.” Ballard states that it is helpful if you have a company handbook to point out the policy and the fact that violation of the policy is grounds for immediate termination. “They should also have signed an acknowledgement page in the handbook when they were hired,” says Ballard.
  7. Make it unemotional. No matter what you think of the employee, try to leave your emotions out of it. “Try not to make it personal,” says Mixon-Krendl. “You really shouldn’t even have to tell them why you’re de-hiring them, because you have had so many talks about their performance in the past.”

    Managers who aren’t being fired for a company policy violation, but rather based on their performance, should have had so many conversations with you about that topic that they don’t see this as a surprise. “The answer you want to hear is that they saw this coming,” says George. “You did your job, because they understand they weren’t performing.”
  8. Make it quick. “I like to hire slow and fire fast,” says Mixon-Krendl. George notes that it shouldn’t take more than three minutes to tell them you’re letting them go and why, before moving on to the paperwork and explaining the processing of their bonuses, giving them their last paycheck, collecting keys, and talking about move-out dates for residential managers.
  9. Have a checklist. Mixon-Krendl has a checklist with a variety of things that needs to be done with the employee. These include collecting the keys and/or codes, credit cards, equipment, checking all bank deposits and petty cash, getting a signed rental agreement for all storage areas they are using, etc.
  10. Send them off with encouragement/assistance. If the employee is not being de-hired for something egregious such as stealing, George suggests helping the employee focus on the future. “End it on a good note,” says George. “Tell them someday you’re going to run into each other and they will probably thank you for helping them move on to something where they were happier.” It doesn’t have to end badly. He suggests thanking them for their service to your company.

If the manager lives on site, Mixon-Krendl proposes giving the employee a bonus for each day they are out of the apartment before two weeks and possibly even allowing them the use of the facility’s moving truck. “These are people who typically don’t have a lot of means, and they weren’t planning on moving,” says Mixon-Krendl. “This helps takes the emotion out of it and helps them on their way.”

Legalities Of De-hiring

Zucker reminds you to keep these tips in mind when you are de-hiring:

  • Make sure to have all the discussions with the employee regarding performance documented. This may help if the manager decides to file a discrimination claim.
  • Submit a record of what is said during the termination to the Department of Labor for proper documentation with unemployment. “If the manager is fired ‘for cause,’ they are not eligible for unemployment,” says Zucker.
  • Your conversation with the manager should not be fodder for the rest of the office. “If there’s a lesson to be shared, such as a violation of a policy, you can share that,” says Zucker. “But the other private details of their employment and terms of their de-hiring should be private.”
  • Only bonuses can be withheld if the manager keeps property belonging to the facility; regular pay cannot be withheld.
  • If the manager becomes belligerent and levels threats, do not hesitate to call law enforcement and document the incident.

Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell is a freelance journalist based in the Ozark Mountains. She is a regular contributor to MiniCo’s publications. Her business articles have also appeared in Entrepreneur, Aol.com, MSN.com, and The Kansas City Star.

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