There are many perks to running your own business, but terminating poor performers definitely isn’t one of them. It’s likely the hardest thing you will ever have to do as a manager to pull the rug out from someone who is earning a living at your company. It’s never an easy task, but in order for your employees and business to progress, it’s often necessary. Studies have shown that the way a manager delivers the bad news of a termination has a large effect on whether that employee will choose to file legal action. The ten minutes you spend in a meeting firing someone may be one of the most important meetings of your career.
Assuming your employee is considered an “at-will” employee (no employment contract that guarantees their job for a specified amount of time), there are several things you can do to help remove the employee from your company with a low risk of being sued for wrongful termination. Preparing yourself ahead of time will minimize the embarrassment and humiliation the employee might feel. Make the experience as non-traumatizing as possible by following a few tried-and-true tips.
Strategies to Help You Deliver the Bad News
When you’ve made the difficult decision to terminate an employee, it’s time to take action. Don’t delay the inevitable. It will only increase your anxiety about bearing the bad news and allow the employee further time to wreak havoc on your company. Follow these tips to get the job done right (and right away).
- Put all your ducks in a row.
The first step in termination is getting all the paperwork in order. You need proof of poor performance or bad behavior because you can bet your bottom dollar the employee will ask questions and want examples. Have everything documented and in your hands prior to the meeting.
- Have a little compassion.
For a moment, put yourself in the shoes of the employee. While it’s difficult for you to deliver the news, it’s even harder for them to receive it. They are likely feeling scared, embarrassed, angry, worried and a host of other emotions. Be compassionate and kind with them, but remember to be honest and firm at the same time. It’s important to keep your temper in check, as they may test it in their angst.
- Don’t spread the news.
This is one of the most essential things for any manager or human resources representative to understand. Spreading the news can get you fired. It also shows very little class. Give the terminated employee their last ounce of dignity by keeping the gossip to yourself.
- Offer assistance where you can.
Provide the employee with any information that may help them post-termination. Consider giving them a packet with instructions for filing unemployment or requests for temporary health insurance. If the termination is due to company layoffs, provide any assistance you are able, such as recommendations, references or job placement help.
The Termination Meeting
The meeting itself should be held in a comfortable place where full confidentiality is guaranteed. If the employee has an office space, consider doing it there, as they will be most comfortable in that location, and you are able to leave as soon as the meeting ends. If they don’t have a private office, use a conference room or private workspace.
Start the meeting by informing the employee that you are terminating their employment and provide a date for their last day of work. While this may seem harsh to begin the meeting this way, it’s actually less cruel than starting with small talk and delivering a blow. The more focused and direct your speech, the better. Provide brief explanations and deliver the necessary paperwork. No doubt the employee will have a few questions, so answer those as best you can. End the meeting on as positive a note as possible, such as saying something good about their time at the company or wishing them luck in the future.
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.