Safe to say that if you’re about to fire someone or “let them go” they’ll have some sour feelings towards you. The extent to which they will take those feelings of course depends on the content of that person’s character. But even if you think you know them, they might end up surprising you anyway. And by “surprsing you” I mean, they’ll mess your day up.
There’s nothing we can do about a disgruntled employee. But we can most certainly do our best to prepare for one. So even if you think you know the person, you must have an execution plan. Pun completely intended.
In our business – web – a disgruntled employee has a lot more options at their disposal than those circa 1994. Back then if it was about to get ugly, 2 security guards would come up to your desk and “escort” you out of the building, making you surrender your rolodex and your employee card on the way out the front door. Today, it’s changing passwords, deleting/forwarding email accounts, getting source files, changing client admin passwords, on and on. It’s relentless. Nothing can be forgotten.
So before the hammer falls and you tell “your guy” that you are going in another direction, or you no longer need him or whatever it is you tell them, you need to make sure you cut all their corporate access and communication. Have your finger on the button and minutes before you deliver the news, start pressing those, “change password” buttons and chances are they’ll start figuring it out before you reach their desk.
But even if you cover all those bases, there’s still “the guy” who ends up emailing your clients. These emails typically ramble on about how great they are and how the company is worthless without them dribble, dribble.
The first thing you must do when your client inevitably emails you with, “who is this guy” – is not to worry about the employee who did it. They’re gone; don’t spend any energy on them. The next thing, act like this is not a big deal. Not because it happens all the time, but because you have all the bases covered. You anticipated this weeks ago when you added a new player to the team. Reassure the client that it’s going to be business as usual and there’s nothing to worry about. Thank them for their understanding. This is the course of doing business. And if your client is in business for themselves, they’ll certainly know a thing or two about disgruntled employees. If they don’t, they do now. Always be responsive and reassuring.
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