Kathleen Shannon 0:02
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Caitlin Brehm 0:55
While we've talked about how to hire a virtual assistant how to grow more permanent team. But what happens when you have to fire an employee?
Kathleen Shannon 1:06
Oh, it's the worst. Emily, you got to take this one. That's basically what I do. I've got to do it.
Emily Thompson 1:15
Like someone else do it. I don't want to. Okay, so step number one is it makes someone else do it for you. Alright, I've had to do this a couple of times that it is never fun, like firing someone is never fun, but it has to happen. And it should probably usually happen sooner than you're comfortable doing it. So do it before you get comfortable doing it. Or things just aren't going to be running in your business the way they should be. The way I like to do it is first and foremost before there are too many Inklings going out into the world is remove access from all things for that person. So their email, making sure that they no longer have access to any sort of social media accounts or any tools that you use, like your project management system or your website and remove access to any files. So whether that's changing the passwords for those things are moving their user accounts or whatever it is that you need to do. It's also pretty handy if you keep an ongoing list of all of these accounts anyway. So when the time comes, you're not spending four hours trying to remember all the social media accounts you have, but you instead just have a list you can go through, check them all off.
Kathleen Shannon 2:21
Okay, before the logistics of removing someone from all of these things, I think that first you have to make the decision to let someone go. So how do you typically know that you need to let someone go?
Emily Thompson 2:33
I think it's a gut feeling first, and I mean, like once I get it in my gut, like once I have that like feeling in my body that this is not working out. That's usually how I know and that usually comes from something weird that was said that shouldn't have been said, or you know, a client issue or some feedback or an Instagram gets sent out with some like, I don't know awful things and or whatever it may be like, there's usually a thing. But for me, it always like manifests and a gut feeling where I just know that this person is not
Kathleen Shannon 3:06
I mean, like there are definitely going to be red flag things that happen. And you might give warnings about or you know, if you do quarterly reviews, which you should with your team. And I think that you should give your contractor or employee like a heads up of like, Hey, here's what I'm wanting to see. Like, is there a miscommunication here, like having that conversation as you go? But like you said, Emily, I think that whenever it really comes to firing someone, it is that gut feeling. And for me, it feels a lot like breaking up with a boyfriend. Like, yeah, just know, it's over whenever it's over. Yeah, yeah. I mean, if everything looks good on paper, like is there are those instances where things might look good on paper, or there was enough like your pros and cons list are like 5050. So you could kind of talk yourself out of doing it just because it's hard. But you probably should if you have that gut feeling
Emily Thompson 3:56
right and not letting someone go because the pain of replacing them is going to be too great is also not a good reason to keep someone which I think usually weighs too heavily, heavily on the con side of firing someone. So you're
Caitlin Brehm 4:09
not letting someone go because you're afraid of hurting their feelings. Because similarly to breaking up with somebody usually like both sides, like actually want it to be done. Like Think of all the times when you've quit a job even if you've never been fired, like Didn't you like kind of fantasize about getting fired before you had
Emily Thompson 4:31
to guess I think about all the creative entrepreneurs who are like, Oh, I wish that they would just fire me and I'm like, how about you take control of your own destiny and quit? Like, if you're fantasizing Yeah, I Oh, no. Quitting or I mean being fired. Or I even had extra relationships from like, maybe he'll get in trouble and go to jail. Like if you're going to jail like a breakup
Emily Thompson 4:58
right. I also want to throw in there the idea though, where you love someone, and they are a great, you know, fit for your team, but your business can't support them anymore, which is also not a great, exciting reason to fire someone, but it's a good reason to let someone go. Whenever whenever your business cannot financially sustain, or you know, practically sustain, like you really have nothing left for them to do whatever it may be. There are markers there that will tell you when it's time to let someone go to
Kathleen Shannon 5:27
that kind of letting go though, feels easier than firing because somehow it feels less personal. Like there wasn't as much
Emily Thompson 5:33
I feel like that's harder. I would rather like us both know this is coming for reasons we both know about
Kathleen Shannon 5:40
you would rather than failing you than you be failing them.
Emily Thompson 5:44
Yes. I would prefer that personally. For sure.
Emily Thompson 5:50
I think that there is like an instance though, where you have to let someone go because you understand that it's not the best fit for your team. And I don't know, there might be some more strategy around how you grow your team, you know. And so this is something that we've probably talked about in how we hire is like looking at who we need to hire. And I think that the same thing applies when it comes to firing as well.
Emily Thompson 6:13
Right. And I've even had instances where me letting someone go was actually doing them a favor, like it was one of those or happened a couple of times where you know, they didn't want to be there anymore. They weren't doing things they really wanted to be moving on and doing whatever it may be. And like I don't want my business to be called for your resentment, or whatever it may be like, there are there are plenty of great reasons to let people go and doing so in a way that's not super dramatic.
Emily Thompson 6:41
Totally. Um, I would also say check with your attorney or accountant. I know accountant is kind of weird, but like if they're on a W two and all of those things, like there's probably a lot of logistical and legal things that you might have to work out beyond just removing passwords just to make sure that you're doing everything on the up and up.
Emily Thompson 7:01
True that. So back to actually doing it though. First thing I think before you let anyone know we're moving access because you don't want some Okay, man,
Kathleen Shannon 7:10
what if like they don't want they try logging into their email before you actually let them go?
Emily Thompson 7:17
then it is what it is.
Kathleen Shannon 7:18
And then they're like, Why can I Why can't I access my email? And then you're like, because you
Emily Thompson 7:23
segue into the conversation.
Caitlin Brehm 7:25
Okay, just checking. I can log into my email right now, right?
Emily Thompson 7:28
We're probably gonna get to so many HR people who were emailing us be like, Guys, this is actually how you do this, which is all good and fine. Please send on your tips. But now I think I think it's better to do that because you don't want someone angry going in there and deleting all your files in Dropbox. Or like Cindy like going in and like stealing email addresses to your client list or whatever it may be like, there are some really weird things that people can and will do. Remember that time someone deleted Trump's Twitter account from Twitter with the day he left?
Kathleen Shannon 7:59
Yeah, that was awesome.
Emily Thompson 8:04
Right? So um, so I'm just saying you want to be able you want to remove access and if they if they try to log in it's a good segue. Don't do it like a week before you fire them. That's weird. Like it's gonna happen the day you're letting them go.
Kathleen Shannon 8:18
Interesting. Okay, yeah. So the day you let them go, you're doing that and then you're sitting down with them? Are you doing it in person or over the phone? Like how is that go? How's the breakup going down?
Emily Thompson 8:28
I feel like I've done it in all ways, in all possible ways. I've
Kathleen Shannon 8:31
had like a harvest your favorite.
Emily Thompson 8:33
I always love a hardcore sit down, which I know makes post most people's skin crawl but like, I'm gonna look you in the face. We're gonna talk about this for a second.
Kathleen Shannon 8:41
I feel like you're such a boss. And when it comes to this stuff,
Emily Thompson 8:44
I This doesn't bother me. I know. It wakes me out. Rives most people crazy. But it really doesn't bother me though. Because I know I'm making everyone's life and work better.
Kathleen Shannon 8:53
I mean, even employee reviews like you do those. I'm like, even whenever they're like glowing
Emily Thompson 8:59
life and work better.
Caitlin Brehm 9:02
But I think that's part of it, too, is like if you are so good at communication throughout the time when you're having a great working relationship with your employees, like having another conversate leaves probably had hard conversations with them before. Like even if it didn't end up with them being fired, like conversations that were like, Hey, you need to step it up in this way. Or hey, like, we didn't meet our goal in this way. And maybe it wasn't your fault, but like this isn't like totally like puppies and rainbows the whole time. So it just kind of makes that conversation a little more. I don't know, like less of a surprise because they know how you deliver feedback and it's not like you suck we hate you. It's hey, here's how it's going.
Emily Thompson 9:45
Right, exactly. So, and again, I've never had the situation where someone was screwing me over and I had to like tell them to fuck off or anything crazy like like it's never been anything dramatic like that. It's always been the type of situation for me where it was just Time for everyone to move on. So it really was about making the right decision and making sure we were both on the same page. So I've done it in person, I've also done it via email. I don't think I've ever done it over the phone before. But it's always just like, whatever, whatever is easy. Like, obviously, we're in the same workspace, it's gonna be in person for working remotely, I'm not going to drive and see you just so I can fire you like, that's probably not going to happen. But however, I think, however you communicate usually like, you're not going to want to like step outside the norm. For this, I don't think to do it the way usually,
Emily Thompson 10:36
so I have not fired many employees or contractors, but I have let go of clients before. And I think that whenever it comes to letting go an employee or contractor, I'm going to share some of the same advice that I have for letting go a client from hell, which is to make sure that your onboarding process like that you're more communicative in your onboarding process, about expectations and what you're delivering. And, you know, for your employee, like what they need to be delivering. And so I think the more communication and systems you have up front that are solid and in place, the easier it's going to be on the back end if you need to let someone go. So you know, I talked about checking with your attorney or accountant. Same goes for hiring someone, and really making sure that you have, like noncompete setup in place from the beginning so that then you aren't worried about them stealing your clients at the end, and really getting those systems and processes in place so that you're covered from the get go.
Emily Thompson 11:38
For sure. Now, when it comes to actually doing it, though, I like to serve a good old shit sandwich person to
Kathleen Shannon 11:46
compliment the bad stuff. And then another comp compliment, okay, yeah.
Emily Thompson 11:50
And then just send them on their way. And I do think that a clean cut is best. Like I've actually fired people before, who then still like, like my things on Instagram, and like, try to comment on things. And I though I, I see it and I like recognize it for the like, the good vibes that it's supposed to be I do prefer just like, let's just have some radio silence for a little bit, and not make things awkward.
Kathleen Shannon 12:14
I will say, you know, I've contracted actually with past employees. So like, I had a full time employee, but she left to go do greater things and was making a move. And anyway, it was not like at all a bad split. It was very amicable and it made sense for everybody. But I've actually hired her freelance, like, Hey, I'm in a bind, you already know my work, you know, my stuff. Do you have time to freelance on this project? And she said, Yeah, right.
Emily Thompson 12:37
But right. And if you do it, right, it doesn't have to be a hard thing. Like I've had people thank me, when I've fired them in the past to thanked me whenever I fired them. Because if you do it right, it doesn't have to be something that breaks a relationship, or burns a bridge, or any of those things. If you're both adults about it, I know that like it can be one sided adulting sometimes and and that's on both parties, or both parties separately, I guess. But you can be the boss about it.
Kathleen Shannon 13:07
And right. So whenever you talk about doing it, right, is that that shit sandwich? Are you trying to lay out opportunities for them? Or how you see things, you know, shifting for them? Like, how are you creating an opportunity for them out of this change? Like, what does it feel like? Right?
Emily Thompson 13:24
I think it's just you literally doing everything you can in that situation. And I think that starts like, again on that onboarding and throughout the process, so that you're always being super open, and you have good communication skills, and they always know what to expect from you. And you all are, they always know what you expect from them. So that a firing isn't going to be surprising, because you've told them multiple times along the way, like this isn't working or like here's how to fix things. And you're either being respond, or they're being responsible for changing or they're not. So a firing will rarely be a real surprise. They'll see it coming. And they'll know that you're just upholding like the values of your company to let them go or you're releasing them to go do whatever it is that they need to be doing. Because obviously, this isn't the thing, and the actual act of firing and doing whatever you can for them. And whether that be you know, just letting them know that they've what they've done has been whatever it has been and sending them on their way. Or whether it is like sending them like giving them a good referral on to their next job or whatever it may be. Or maybe it is just cutting ties, never speaking again, it's literally just doing everything that you can for them in that moment with what you have. And I think that's different for every relationship and every kind of employee that you could have so hard to like draw some hardcore, like lines around it, but whenever you can.
Emily Thompson 14:50
I think also bringing a lot of honesty to the conversation, honesty and kindness because I know that you know if we're having a business, not always right if we're Having like a business bestie conversation about an employee that we need to let go like, we might be venting and we might be, you know, not not the kindest in our words because we're venting as professional, you know, business owners and creatives who are trying to do the best that we can. But whenever it comes to letting someone go, I think that you know, we're tempted to make excuses like for example, my business can't support you, when in fact that might not be the real answer. And I think that you should just be as honest as possible whenever it comes to letting someone go,
Emily Thompson 15:34
you are doing them no favors in their next job if you aren't super like forthcoming with what the actual issues were. So again, like this idea of you do if I think if you go at it with this mindset of you are doing the best you can for yourself for your own business and for their needs as well. It should all go pretty smoothly as smoothly as a firing cango.
Kathleen Shannon 15:59
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Emily Thompson 16:13
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