How to Turn Your Ex-Employee into Your Worst Enemy

angry ex-employee
Angry ex-employee

It’s classic: Your ex employee rants over the Internet via social media and jeopardises your small business brand that is built with sweat and tears. Like it or not, most probably it’s your fault.

When it comes to social media, everything is magnified: When your small business does well, using social media can trigger buzz that will return you clients or customers. Unfortunately, the same thing also happens when your small business sucks; and as small business owners, we are all understand that anything negatives are more newsworthy and “social media-worthy” than the positives.

An unhappy ex-employee can ignite a bad and horrendous wildfire. You need to take care firing more carefully than hiring. Hiring requires your knack for discovering hidden talents; firing requires your knack for understanding people and their special personality trait.

Your ex-employee could be your worst enemy

Unless your ex-employees resign based on their own decision, ex-employees will always be dissatisfied in one way or another; unfair treatment, questionable judgment, and any other rants can go public if you don’t manage them.

The big question is, how to manage unhappy ex-employees? The answers are most probably lie in what’s not to do. Here’s how to turn your ex-employee into your worst enemy (obviously, you would want to do the otherwise!) :

1. Firing without properly documented proof

You can’t fire your employee simply because you don’t like his/her as a person. We all know that firing can be highly subjective (that may involve office politics,) but subjective firing could trigger the unwanted negative images to your business brand.

You need well-documented proof that can professionally and legally explain why you would want to downsize an employee.

2. Treating your ex-employee unprofessionally

Firing your employee by email or phone is unprofessional. You (or your HRD Manager) need to talk face to face with the employee you are going to fire. Treat him/her well in professional manner, as despite he/she’s being complacent and doesn’t be able to live up to your standard, you are actually the one who makes a decision to hire him.

If you want your ex-employee to respect you, you need to respect him/her, too.

3. Pretending to believe that your ex-employee won’t rant

This is really foolish – I’ll say 99% ex-employee will rant, anyway (sorry, no proof on this); maybe not publicly, but an ex-employee will likely to share to his/her closest friends or family members. From this alone, a butterfly effect can happen; your friends share to their friends, and so on – and we know that chain messages tend to blur the original fact along the way; simply devastating, indeed.

4. Ignoring what’s going on in social-sphere

In today’s Internet and social media era, it’s surprising to know that many small business owners, despite their lack of web 2.0 knowledge, ignore the facts that social media has significantly grown in importance.

What’s being ranted about on the Facebook account of your ex-employee could bring your business down. Consider this: What if your ex-employee is a popular figure on Facebook or Twitter? With 50,000 friends and followers, a single negative word about your business can be a major problem for you.

5. Forgetting the fact that your ex-employee is a human being

Your business may have the best procedures in downsizing, but you may forget that who you deal with is a human being. You (or your HRD staffs) need more knowledge on how to take care the psychological sides of firing. It’s almost certain that firing an employee will results in either an angry or sad person, and angry or sad person can trigger reactions among his/her social group; friends, colleagues, family, etc.

You need to learn on how to be wise and empathetic, as not every employee has the same personality traits; their reactions toward bad news could differ greatly, and this is something you need to master.

Anything to share from your experience in downsizing an employee? Please let us know by posting a comment on this article.

Ivan Widjaya
Ex-employee management