A big part of having a practice that you truly want is having your essential teammates in place. We’ll talk about this on Saturday  Coworking Day

Folks like a bookkeeper, accountant, and virtual assistant help you manage the day to day activities leaving you free to focus on generating more income. There are a few more people you need on your team, too.

The conventional wisdom is ‘be slow to hire’, and while I generally agree with taking your time to find the person who fits your workplace culture and has the requisite skills, I think some folks use this advice as an excuse not to hire at all.

Yikes. What I find people fear more about hiring is having to fire someone. This question comes up pretty regularly in groups, ‘How do I fire this person? What should I say?’

Generally, the advice given is very lawyerly. Don’t say why, just say ‘It didn’t work out’. Don’t let them go back to their desk; ask someone else to pack up their stuff. Get the keys immediately. You’ve probably heard about, or even done, some of these things before.

How to fire someone without making a mess or a lawsuit

I take an alternative view to firing someone. Firing is a learning experience for both of you. It should not be treated in an aggressive or disrespectful way. There is something for each person to examine and make adjustments about.

1. Don’t avoid firing for months. It’s a waste of time, money and emotion for you to be stressed out for that long. Your judgment and decisions will surely be impacted, and not in a good way.

2. Figure out what the true reason the person is not working out. There is always a precipitating incident that makes you go, ‘That’s it. Gotta go’. But there were plenty of clues things weren’t going right before that moment that you passed over.

Maybe you were trying to do the person a favor and give them time. Maybe you were trying to do yourself a favor and avoid the drama. Whatever the reason, there were earlier instances where the employee did something that didn’t sit right with you. Find them.

3. Use this as a teachable moment for you and the employee. If nothing changes, nothing changes. The next time you hire won’t be any different unless you take a lesson from this failed hire. The employee can’t improve if they don’t know specifically what went wrong.

I know you worry about creating a lawsuit. That’s why its worth the hour to sit down with an employment lawyer to discover how to handle conveying the information. Send your former employee back into the workforce better than you found him or her. The karma will do you good.

4. Examine your part. Brene Brown, renowned shame researcher, says when things go wrong we always have a part we played. Find yours. Notice I said find not blame. There’s no need or value in blaming yourself. It prevents you from learning the lesson. Ask yourself: what did I do or fail to do that lead to this outcome.

Hiring is essential if you want to grow your law practice into something that serves you and you truly want. Firing is simply part of that process.

Want to learn about the other essential teammates and where to find them?  Join me on Saturday for Design Your Law Practice Coworking Day


Dina Lynch Eisenberg, JD, is the CEO of OutsourceEasier.com, an outsourcing training/consulting firm for successful lawyers and entrepreneurs based in Oakland, CA.

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