Terminating employees is never an easy chore. It can be a land mine field full of little errors and mistakes and missteps just waiting to blow up. So what is a manager to do? When it comes time to terminate, there are three pretty solid things you can do to help make sure you steer clear of problems.
Number one is don’t get emotional. Keep your cool. Now, of course, the employee that you’re terminating may not be able to keep their cool. So that much more important is it that you keep yours.
Things that you say, if it’s off the cuff, off the top of the head, in a moment of heated discussion, can come back to bite you in a court of law. And, remember, it doesn’t really matter how nice you are during the termination. The employee is only going to hear everything you say in the worst possible light.
The second thing that you can do to avoid these problems with termination of employees is come prepared. You’re not going to be able to have a scripted discussion per se. But if you come prepared with the words you want to say, the language that you want to use and you stick with your program and, to the best of your ability, you do not allow the employee to deviate from your program, then certainly you’re going to fare better, and so will your terminated worker.
Don’t forget, don’t terminate employees alone. Have another witness there with you. Maybe even have some security waiting outside. Be prepared for everything that might occur.
And then, finally, while you want to be gentle with the person, you don’t want to inflame them or provoke them beyond what they may already be feeling. You also don’t want to sugarcoat anything. You don’t want to say, oh, you’ve been one of our best workers and for this reason or that reason we just have to let you go.
No, no, no, no, no. You want to make it very clear why the person is being let go. You don’t have to say it mean and with vengeance. But certainly you need to be professional and honest with that worker. Again, you’ll have a witness handy. You’ll have security outside. You’ll be very well prepared.
You can show feeling for the individual but don’t sugarcoat. And don’t fib about why you really, really wish you didn’t have to do this. Because, at this point, if you’ve done your job, while this is an unpleasant task, you realize it’s a necessary task. And saying that you wish you didn’t have to do this or this doesn’t feel right to you is just going to make things worse, OK?
Be honest. Be prepared. Have all of your documentation in place. Be kind but don’t lie. And don’t sugarcoat.
Well, there you go. There are three things that you can do in order to handle your next termination with as much professionalism, ease, and preparedness as possible. It’s never fun. But it can be an experience that you both learn from.
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