Firing an employee is a messy business. Just the thought of having to recruit, train and manage a new salesperson is enough to keep some sales managers from following through with the task. But holding on to a salesperson who is not performing or is disruptive to the team is guaranteed to make matters worse.
But how do you know when it’s time to say goodbye? It’s simple, according to one HR consultant: “Lack of production.” Certainly, performance is one criterion for firing. And reps who are dishonest, selfish or disrespectful should also face the axe.
You may fear that firing a rep will cause a morale dip in the troops. After all, someone’s friend is getting shown the door. But making a tough choice can bolster the spirits of your sales squad – firing can positively affect morale because it sends a message that the company will take strong measures to ensure the success of the organisation. Poor performers lower the morale of the team, and they continually break momentum and diminish the credibility of the sales manager.
Before firing, however, steps must be taken to legally protect your business. It’s crucial that the employee has been warned in advance in writing. Coaching sessions with failing salespeople will help protect you when it comes time to separate. Documentation must be developed in advance of the dismissal, and when it comes time for the employee to go, the manager should conduct an exit interview.
Though firing will never be a savoury part of a manager’s job description, it’s short-term pain for long-term gain. Managers have to realise that when they keep the wrong person, there’s more damage to the company than just lack of production.
How to fire a member of staff
Here are some firing guidelines from William Skip Miller’s book, ProActive Sales Management:
- Never in your office: If it’s your office, you can’t leave if the employee wants to stay and talk.
- Short and sweet: As you walk in the door, say: “The reason I’m here is to tell you this is your last day of employment with this company.” Just get it out.
- Never on a Friday: If fired on a Friday, the employee can’t start the process of feeling good. All he or she can do is stew about it over the weekend.
- Outside help: If the employee says he or she has consulted an attorney or other legal counsel, stop the conversation immediately and consult your HR department or attorney, whoever helped you craft your company policy.
- No hanging around: Personal effects can be retrieved, but have the person leave the building.