Sometimes a relationship doesn’t work out. Maybe it’s you, maybe it’s the other person, what matters is that the split is done in a way where both parties can feel respected. The same principle is true when you need to let an employee go.
In very few instances will an employee be happy about being let go. There are however, ways to sever the professional relationship that will cause the least amount of disturbance to your organization.
The right way to terminate an employee
1. Make sure that the termination isn’t a surprise. The former employee should’ve had plenty of warnings and chances to work on his/her weaknesses. If the termination was due to job restructuring, then an announcement should’ve been made months prior.
2. Have all your answers ready. This includes responses to questions such as:
• “Are there any severance arrangements”
• “What is the official end date?”
• “Can’t I just be transferred to another department?”
• “What happens with my benefits?”
3. Don’t react during the final meeting. The terminated employee will likely go through a range of emotions. Face these with respect and gratitude for his/her service.
4. Address the questions from your staff once the termination is finalized because it’s possible that not everyone understands why it was necessary.
5. Jot down detailed notes about points raised in the meeting. You may need written proof of what occurred.
The wrong way to terminate an employee
1. Don’t terminate someone over email, voicemail, IM, or phone call. The person dedicated him/herself to your company; show him/her some courtesy and do it in person.
2. Only conduct the termination when you have a reliable witness. A disgruntled former employee may attempt to sue. The best practice is to have an HR manager present at the meeting, so that everything can be documented.
3. Make sure the employee knows you’re firm in your decision. It’s better to give the bad news all at once, instead of dragging out the process.
4. Either right before or after the termination, remove the employee’s access to sensitive company materials. The former employee will be full of raw emotions and might create a scene, or sabotage company assets if the situation isn’t handled properly.
Although sometimes necessary, it isn’t easy letting someone go. Doing so with respect, attention and sympathy doesn’t simplify what needs to be done, but at least is provides a platform from which both your company and the former employee can benefit in the long-run.