As anyone who's ever fired an employee knows, the exercise, while painful for the person being fired, can be just as bad if not worse for the person doing the firing. Or, if not worse, than more awkward. You fumble around for the right words, you try not to make eye contact, you worry that there will be tears or a physical confrontation. Is it better to tap them on the shoulder, act like everything is peachy, ask if you can grab them for "just a quick" sec and then drop the bomb? Or to right up front say "I need talk to you in the conference room and it's not going to be good"? Do you bring a box of tissues? Do you let HR do the talking? These questions and more need to be answer when you've been assigned the unenviable task of telling someone to take a long lunch and not come back to the office, ever. Luckily, Deutsche Bank has provided a primer on how to ax someone with as little friction on the fire-er's end as possible.
Step one, dial the employee's phone number. What, you thought this was going to be a face to face thing?
“Thank you for making yourself available for this call today,” reads the first line of a two-page draft script obtained by Bloomberg News that was used to fire at least one trader caught up in the Libor scandal. The niceties quickly fall away. “We have decided that your employment agreement should be terminated with immediate effect by reason of your gross misconduct, which in the opinion of the bank is serious enough to prejudice the business and reputation of the bank,” the speaker would continue. “Your dismissal will be effective immediately and you will not be entitled to any period of notice or payment in lieu of notice.”
Things can either end there, or if you've got a fighter, escalate slightly. Happily, Deutsche Bank's got a response for whatever curveballs/"How the f*ck are you just going to fire me over the phone"-type questions that might come your way.
The scripts also include a list of suggested responses to a trader in the process of losing his job. The primer advises the speaker not to “become involved in a detailed discussion of the facts” surrounding the basis for the termination. “You may just simply wish to say: ‘We appreciate the points that you are making but can assure you that the Bank has thoroughly reviewed the available evidence and has now reached a conclusion.” And if the employee complains the bank hasn’t followed the “usual disciplinary process” -- there’s an answer for that too. “In the light of your interviews and the documents which have been discovered, we have reached the conclusion that your conduct does amount to gross misconduct and thus the appropriate course of action is to dismiss you immediately,” the speaker should say. “We do not think that any further hearings would alter that conclusion.”
Don't say the Germans and their famed efficiency never did anything for you!