Informing Your Employee: The Moment We All Regret

There’s broad agreement that the firing meetings are difficult for everyone involved. Most employers do care – and they want to come across that way. That’s why the employee should be given the news face to face. It’s important not to revisit the details or indicate your decision may not be final while at the termination meeting.
The meeting itself should be held in a neutral, private setting such as a conference room, and you may want to have a witness present. In addition to verbal communication of the termination, the employee may be handed a termination letter that puts your decision in writing. The letter should  explain how and when final compensation and benefits will be distributed. Notes should be taken to document the employee’s response, and all of these documents should be kept in the personnel file. With luck, you won’t ever need them.
Writing on Forbes’ website, Ron Ashkenas suggests that post-termination communication is an important part of the process. “After the firing,” he says, “talk to your team about the process, the reasoning, and the implications for them (within the limits of confidentiality). In some cases, they will fully understand the decision. In others, they may have a very incomplete picture. In either case, you need to be sensitive to their emotions, and then help redirect their focus back on work.”

Game Plan

  • There are many articles available online that will advise you how to prepare for and conduct a firing meeting. This one on legal site provides a good overview.
  • The Society for Human Resource Management also offers useful tips to consider when firing someone.
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