I fired an employee by text message

I was reminded of the fact that I fired a person by text message once upon a time today as the person in question began trying to reach me (FINALLY) to get his paperwork so that he could file his taxes. So I pulled out his file and read it over and was reminded in detail of some of the less impressive things I’ve done as a business owner. It’s a little while ago now but this is what’s happened (SHORT version; keep your temper and don’t fire someone by text message!)

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Last year in July we hired a young guy to help us out at work. Things went okay for the first 6 weeks after his training. He was taught the rules and procedures and how to clock in and out. During his 7th week he began showing up late and peeling off ridiculously early and was given a verbal warning. Then I received a complaint about him. The leaving early continued, we addressed starting and finishing times with him and fast forward three weeks later with more of these issues and one evening he just didn’t show up. It was September 11th and I frantically scrambled to find someone to replace him, we tried phoning him, left a message, sent text messages and got nothing but radio silence.

I found a replacement for his next shift and sure enough, another no-show.  He showed up about an hour and a half into the shift, saw his replacement working and left. I called, got a full voice-mail box and… nothing. A few days go by of complete silence and I decide at this point we’ve had enough, he didn’t get through the probationary period, received a verbal warning, did not return any phone calls and moved without giving the forwarding address.

On September 15th I completed his termination letter, I was completely justified in doing so at this point. I followed all the proper procedures in preparing his final paperwork and tried to call one more time. I finally received a text message saying he couldn’t work because he couldn’t text message. (His words, literally) Utterly confused I tried to phone again and still no response. I finally got angry enough to grab my phone and text him his notice; “X, not being able to text is not an acceptable reason not to show up and subsequently show up an hour and a half late. We can’t have you working like this and your last cheque is ready. Every time I have tried to phone you I get your full voice-mail and feel I have no choice but to text you your notice”

I hadn’t heard from the guy since, when I was talking to a friend about this who didn’t know the whole story, just that I fired someone by text he exclaimed ‘That’s greasy!’ Well, it’s not nice but… yeah, it wasn’t nice. I should have put the letter in an envelope and waited for the guy to eventually get in touch with me, I knew that it may take half a year but eventually he would have to get his info for taxes, and he did… yesterday I got the phone call I’d been waiting for, about 6 months after I began frantically trying to reach the guy.

*Sigh* This post isn’t meant to bash the employee in question, it’s just another thing that happened in the course of learning to run a business and hire and fire the right people. No one really teaches you the nuances of letting someone go and it really never becomes easy, sometimes you find out things the hard way. Lesson learned, firing a person is really best done when they’re in front of you even though it may be hard to wait and harder to do. The fact that I fired him was completely justified, just not the way I did it. Any embarrassing employment stories you would like to share?

Source here.

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2 Comments

  1. Great story – I think that in some cases, you need to do what you need to do, and that means reaching people in the easiest way – though maybe not the most professional. Things happen though, and you cant take them back. Just learn from them and move on.

  2. You were totally justified in firing him. It’s actually a pretty funny story. Complete lack of professionalism on his part. I hope someone calls you for a reference sometime, but I doubt he’d ever put you on his reference list. You did what you had to, and I don’t think that receiving a letter in the mail would have been any better.

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