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Replace an Employee in a Professional Way

If you’re a hiring manager, you’ve probably had to replace an employee at some point. Most of us would say this is the hardest part of being a manager, for many different reasons. emptydesk.jpg

Get Organized

Decide the order of events. We recommend firing or terminating the employee before starting your new candidate search. Ideally, it would be great to have stand-by candidates to put in the vacant role. But conducting a covert hiring project before firing the employee will compromise your ability to create the strongest talent pool. Trust is an important part of your potential employer reputation. Asking a candidate to keep their interview secret looks shady. They might wonder if you’ll do the same to them after they’ve been hired. Hiring a new employee is an opportunity to set the stage for professionalism, and it starts with their first interview experience.

Consider a Temporary Worker

Firing first means you’ll likely have a vacant role for 4-6 weeks. You can have other employees cover those responsibilities while you search for candidates, or you can work with a temporary staffing agency. Here are factors that may affect this decision:

  • Company workload
  • Project deadlines
  • Willingness of current employees to help
  • Time of year

We can’t always predict workforce changes, so being prepared for every scenario is a good idea. Connect with a staffing company before you need their services. In the future, if you find yourself in a tough situation, you’ll have access to a larger talent pool immediately.

Respect Privacy

When it comes time to have that final conversation, no one needs to be there except the person who is being let go. Casual termination discussions in the bullpen or around the water cooler is a way to establish yourself as an unprofessional, emotionally driven manager.

Say Less

Instead of launching into a verbal tirade, present formal papers that show a record of improper behavior or other reasons for termination. Use these as your primary means of presentation. This will help keep your personal input to a minimum. It will limit the other person’s ability to start a shouting match or some other kind of drama that will get noticed beyond the office doors.

Manage the Replacement

It helps to have everything set up before the work day when people start coming in. Prepare a narrative (a short one) explaining the appearance of the new hire or temporary employee. This will help you smooth over questions about why so-and-so is replacing so-and-so. It puts the focus on what the new person is doing and how they are qualified.

By taking charge of the conversation, you’re stopping office gossip before it starts when there is a personnel change your office or department.

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