My time in business has provided quite a journey and led to a change within myself in how I’ve approached dismissing employees over the years. My journey started as a first time employer at the age of 21 with a small domestic cleaning business. HR and employment law weren’t really something I’d thought about beyond the basics, my focus was on finding new customers.
“The first time I let someone go was very much a Lord Alan, you’re fired! approach”
The first time I let someone go was very much a Lord Alan, “you’re fired!” approach to dealing with someone who was often late, didn’t do the best of jobs and everything came to a head when she started an argument and swore at me. Did I do the right thing for the business? Yes. The individual’s poor work ethic was getting her team member down who had to do more work to compensate. Did I do the right thing for myself? Yes. I didn’t want the hassle of dealing with the situation which had gotten out of hand.
Sometime after, I started losing domestic customers as during the economic conditions of 2009 I found that, as some of my customers started losing their jobs, having their home cleaned was one of their first outgoings to get rid of. It became apparent that to survive I’d need to focus on commercial contracts and so I made the decision to make two domestic cleaners redundant. Unlike the last staff member to go this was something that kept me up at night as I played out how to have the conversation but it had to be done. I did the right thing for business and it was able to survive, but there was something about going through this situation that stuck with me.
During the time leading up to the redundancies I found myself searching online for resources on how to go about it. I also found that the change in business direction led me into dealing with commercial customers who had a lot of questions relating to employment law and staff training for example. There was definitely something about the topics that sparked an interest in me and I ended up putting myself through a few Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) courses.
How I then ended up working in HR to where I currently am today as an HR software vendor is a much longer story. But my early experiences of dismissing staff, followed by education and experiences in the HR world taught me a lot about doing the right thing, which is far wider than a business in survival mode. On reflection, did I go about letting the 3 staff members go in the right way? No, I didn’t.
Having been through a dismissal process in my current business, I can say that it was a lot different this time round – it followed many conversations, performance reviews and SMART goals being set but not obtained. If you’re the business owner I was once was, then my first tip is to set your personal feelings aside and treat people fairly.
Some of my journey was first featured in The Telegraph including tips from myself and other professionals on handling dismissals – Is there a right way to let people go?