“Dear Michell, how do you know when it is time to fire an employee? I have a groomer who refuses to take direction and insists on doing everything her own way. I have tried for a few years now to convince her that my way is the best. At the end of the day, she does it her way. It is important to me that my employees respect me and do things as I would like them done. I have had enough! I want to fire her but I want to do it the right way and with a clear conscious.” –Debbie
Hi Debbie. Firing an employee is never easy, even if you have fantasized about firing this employee for months, or even years. The truth of the matter is that, when you fire a person, you are directly impacting their life in a serious way. You are impacting their pride, finances, security and family. This may be one of the hardest things you have to do in your roll as owner or manager.
You may need some support from your family and friends to get through it without feeling like a monster. Write down the reasons that you are choosing to let this person go and keep them handy so that when you are feeling bad, you can justify your actions to yourself. It is important to avoid venting and searching for support from your other staff. Confide in your friends and family.
Good groomers are hard to find. The fear of not being able to replace a groomer is real. The fear of the replacement being just as bad (or worse) as the problematic employee is real, too. In many cases, the owner or manager will hang onto an employee who is not the best fit because they are “the devil you know”.
One way to get to the bottom of your feelings on the matter is to ask yourself, “If the employee gave notice today, would I be relieved or devastated?” If you would be devastated, then maybe look for some compromises and solutions to get back to a good working relationship with this groomer. If you are instantly relieved, then it is probably time for you to fire them.
In your situation, it sounds like the bad behavior has been allowed to go on for too long. This gives the employee a false sense of security. They get away with the bad behavior over and over with no repercussions, so the firing may come as a surprise. Many employees convince themselves that they will not get fired for various reasons. From the employer’s point of view, it seems like it should be obvious to the employee that they will get fired if they are a constant problem for the employer to manage. Every story has two sides.
Keep in mind that, in many cases, the problem employee is not happy in this environment, either. If you are feeling stressed about fighting them every day, they are probably feeling stressed about fighting back. This is not a good working situation for you, them or the rest of the staff. They might find themselves relieved to be let go.
Know the laws in your state surrounding firing an employee. Stick to them very closely. Make sure that you have documented all verbal and written warnings. Make sure that you have documented all actions taken. If this is something that you have not been doing, it is never too late to start.
Make sure you have a savings in place to cover the drop in income that will follow. If at all possible, hire the problem employee’s replacement before you fire them or plan the termination date around known slow periods to help alleviate the financial burden. This allows your other staff and/or yourself to groom some of the surplus customers.
You will not retain all of the clients that were accustomed to the previous groomer’s work. That is ok. Some clients may leave forever and some clients may try a few other places and then come back. Some clients may find out where the previous employee has gone and go to them. That is ok too. The last thing that you want is clients that don’t want to be your clients. They are bad reviews waiting to happen.
Finally, schedule the employee’s termination for a time when the other staff is not present. You will need one witness on–hand for security. Obviously, a manager or lead groomer would be best, but even a spouse will work. Have all of the employee’s belongings packed neatly into sturdy boxes. Type up a letter of termination with a short and simple explanation of why they are being terminated. This is not the time to list everything they have ever done wrong. Keep it simple. Keep the total duration of the termination meeting to under five minutes. Talk as little as possible. Do them the courtesy of firing them with dignity. Tell them, to their face, that they are fired. If they insist on a reason why, simply refer them to their letter. Make arrangements to recover any salon property from the employee, such as keys, tools or uniforms.
I hope this helps you. Take care.