Small or large, as soon as you hire on employees, you increase your chances of having to fire someone by 100%. Inevitably, the time will come when a worker is not performing to your standards or has done something against company policy. While many firings aren’t hostile, it nevertheless is an important step to take the time and learn how to protect yourself should there be hostilities. As the face of the company connected to every social media site around, keeping your reputation in tact is more important than ever before.
Keep It Secret, Keep It Safe
Under absolutely no circumstances should you ever release any information about the firing on any social media network no matter how private you think it is. Their name as well as any information regarding the firing is purely confidential. You’ll only end up in a heap of legal trouble if you break this silence. Even if the person fired is being as slanderous as they can to cause you trouble, remain calm and respond as a mature adult. Publicly ask them if they would like to speak about the matter in private. Offer up a time and date as well. This helps diffuse the situation because if the fired employee responds in a negative, it paints them as the immature one. This method also prevents you from letting slip any private information.
Assuming you’ve had time to prepare your firing speech, you will have also had time to plan out what information you need to change to protect your young business and yourself. In small businesses, everyone has the communal passwords. Because there are so few people, everyone having access means a much easier way to make updates and deal with the populace through social media. Once an employee leaves, they’ll still have access to everything they had a password to, leaving you extremely vulnerable.
Before the employee is fired, write down a list of everything they have had access to over their time working for you. As soon as they’re gone, immediately go through each platform to change the passwords. Remind the remaining employees that sharing them will not be tolerated and is grounds for getting fired. This will dissuade any friends of the ex-employee from sharing the information.
Make it a Favor
When it comes time to actually sit down with the person and deliver the news, the worst thing you can possibly do is insult them. Keep in mind that if things go poorly, they will spread the news far and wide that your new business is a horrible place to support, seriously damaging your potential growth. Instead, think of the firing in terms of how you can let them go without hurting their feelings. The best way to do this is by treating it like a favor or an opportunity. Clearly this individual has a great skill set, but it doesn’t quite work out with the current company’s needs. It’s no one’s fault, it’s simply a poor fit. Many people can understand this and a few may even be relieved they can finally go ply their trade elsewhere.
Taking this a step further, do what you can to help them after the firing. Few people will bad mouth a let go if they’re supplied with six months of unemployment on top of a boss that’s connected them with other brands they would work better with. During such an emotionally charged situation, the best thing you can do is dampen the negativity by legitimately showing concern.
Occasionally, the worst case scenario will happen. No matter what you do, no matter how much you try to lessen the blow, the ex-employee will do everything in their power to sully your reputation. Your responsibility during this crucial time is to act immediately. If they say something rude on Twitter, tweet back. Do what you can to get the truth on the table without spilling any of their confidential information.
However, as a word of warning, respond only once your emotions are in check. No one appreciates their character being called into question no matter how right or wrong they are. On social media, the winner is the person that remains cool, collected and logical. Because the employee decided to drag the dispute into the public eye, you’ll have the upper hand so long as you can refrain from using their emotionally charged tactics.