Firing an employee can be a challenging and risky task. If done incorrectly, it can lead to misunderstandings and raise legal issues. Some companies have to use employment mediation to protect their business from potential litigation that arises from termination. Thus, employers should follow the proper protocol and handle the separation in the best way possible. Here’s what to remember when breaking the bad news:
1. Keep the termination meeting short and neutral.
Termination meetings should not be a drag-out discussion. The goal of the session is to advise the employee about his dismissal, briefly explain why he’s getting fired, and communicate relevant details about the termination. Do not attempt to unload your grievances. You’ve reached a final decision, and it’s not helpful to rehash previous issues with the person.
Additionally, saying too much can get you into legal hot water. You can answer one or two questions but never get into a prolonged discussion of more than 15 minutes. Encourage him to review the termination letter and give you a call the next day if he has further questions.
2. Handle potential conflict with the utmost professionalism.
While most separations can go smoothly, some terminations can go wrong. An employee is never prepared to lose his job even if he sees it coming. Termination can be a traumatic and heartbreaking experience that may spark his violent reaction or aggressive behavior. If the ex-employee responds with anger, stay calm, listen, and repeat the message. If he’s exceptionally emotional, show compassion but make it clear that the decision is non-negotiable.
Your tone and demeanor should be professional and assertive. When the individual becomes unruly, pretend that there is a jury and maintain dignity, grace, and respect. It will be helpful to bring a third party to the meeting to avoid future disputes. Having a witness in the room who records or notes the conversation can confirm that there is a fair and respectful discussion in case the ex-employee will challenge the company with a lawsuit. Do not forget to inform the employee upfront if you’re recording the meeting.
3. End the meeting on a positive note.
No matter how poorly a person performed, you want to end the employment relationship on a positive note. Tell him that the company values his contributions and acknowledge his strengths. Keep his dignity intact and do not ask the guards to escort the departing employee from the company premises. Do not make him collect his belongings and turn over company properties in front of his colleagues.
Provide the employee with a contact that will give thorough and prompt assistance regarding his benefits, payroll, tax records, and future job references. Make sure to know his transportation situation. If he’s emotional, extremely shocked, or counting on the company carpool, hire a taxi to ensure that he’ll have a safe drive home. Shake his hands and send him out with words of genuine encouragement.
While there is no easy way to terminate employees , you can soften the blow by showing fairness, maintaining professionalism, and ending the relationship on a positive note.