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Susan M. Heathfield

How NOT to Fire an Employee

By September 14, 2011

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Would you ever fire someone over the phone? How disrespectful. That's what Yahoo's Board Chairman did to CEO Carol Bartz. I'm not privy to the details about why Ms. Bartz was fired.

I'm not even sure how much of Yahoo's struggles during her two and a half year tenure can be blamed on her leadership and direction - and I don't even have an opinion on this. With the current economy, many employers are struggling to keep their businesses moving forward. But, the one fact that I am absolutely certain about is that whether you are the administrative assistant or the CEO, you deserve respect as a human being and employee when your organization decides to fire you - especially for poor performance.

Maybe Ms. Bartz had many performance discussions with her Board; after all, she was a member and they must have closely reviewed Yahoo's progress. But, under most circumstances, you can ethically and legally fire an employee without disrespecting the employee and leaving your organization open for a potential lawsuit.

You can fire an employee with compassion and class. And, duh, of my top 10 don'ts when you fire an employee, guess which action is my number one? I hope the rest of Yahoo's culture has a different vibe. Otherwise, they're going to have a tough time recruiting.

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September 16, 2011 at 11:07 am
(1) Rick says:

You are absolutely right. There are very few instances when it is not possible to treat an individual who is being terminated with dignity and respect. Those few instances would include when an employee is physically violent or threatening an employee where you need to contact the appropriate law enforcement officials ASAP. Luckily, those situations are very rare so you can act professionally during the vast majority of termination discussions which are never pleasant for any party involved.

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