The whole idea of firing a person over email is incomprehensible. Writing for CareerBuilder.com, Kaitlin Madden recently published True Tales: Fired Via E-mail. Quoted in Ms. Madden’s article is Kerry Paterson, co-author of Crucial Conversations. Both authors comment on how an employee should act in response to a firing by email.
As for employers, simply don’t do it – ever! There are times when a large lay-off communication can be done through an email or other media communication with immediate follow-up process for individuals or sub-groups. However, I can’t imagine a situation where an email firing an individual or even a small group in a small to mid-sized business makes any sense whatsoever. Every company’s success is attributable to attracting, developing and retaining the best possible talent for your firm and building a culture to support winning in the market place. Your reputation with employees has external implications as well with future candidates, vendors and customers. Word of this kind of insensitive process of termination will spread like wildfire within your organization, and with customers and competitors. Your employees will become easy targets to leave.
Also, Ms. Madden quotes Mr. Paterson in her article:
“First, ask to talk with your boss in person. Explain that you’d like to learn more about what led to your termination. If your boss is unwilling to hold the conversation, request a discussion with the HR manager. It’s actually their job to hold exit interviews.”
This is sound advice for an employee. However, a termination should never be a surprise to an individual unless part of a broader layoff. Documenting discussions where an employee’s under performance is necessary to ensure that termination is for cause or if the individual is not meeting discussed plans for improvement. Terminating an employee should come after a plan for improvement fails to deliver results or if there is immediate cause for wrongdoing.
Photo Courtesy of Close to Home