Should you fire someone during a video conference?

Thursday, October 10 2013
Should you fire someone during a video conference?


Firing people isn't an enjoyable task, but sometimes it needs to be done. If an employee consistently doesn't meet expectations or engages in inappropriate behavior, you need to get rid of them before they can truly disrupt the rest of the staff. 

Recently, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong made headlines when he canned a worker during a company-wide conference call. According to Business Insider, Armstrong terminated Abel Lenz, creative director at AOL Patch.com, because he was taking pictures during the gathering. 

Now this was certainly embarrassing for everyone involved, but it goes to show that staffing decisions have to made regardless of the situation. If it's time to let someone go, you have to do it even if you'd prefer to wait. 

The real question is: Is it okay to fire someone by using video conferencing?

The case for...
In some cases, you'll have no choice but to terminate someone via your business communications platform. For instance, if you hired someone who lives on the other side of the country and works remotely, firing them in a video conference is an acceptable solution. 

Additionally, breaking the bad news in an online meeting might be the most convenient solution in many situations. Instead of trying to schedule a discussion or bring everyone together for a performance review, you can simply log on, explain your decision and be done with it. 

The case against...
Getting fired can be devastating for an employee. Put simply, it may be the worst thing anyone will ever hear at work. 

The emotional impact of your decision is why you might want to deliver the news in person. If you're sitting at your desk and speaking into a microphone, you may not be able to establish a close connection with someone. 

Further, some employees may want feedback on how to improve their performance in the future, and your comments might seem impersonal through a computer. For this issue, you need to learn how to act and speak naturally during a video conference. This will allow you to connect with people so you don't come off as cruel, even when your in the midst of firing them. 

Ultimately, whether you want to terminate someone in a video conference is solely up to you. If you think it's an acceptable way to handle this rather unpleasant task, you should follow your instincts and do it.