One of the unpleasant duties every manager must carry out is employee termination. Having to make this decision means periodic performance reviews have shown the affected employee is not a great fit for your company. You have sufficient documentation to back your decision but breaking the news to the person involved is an entirely different matter. It becomes more delicate when the person has not done anything unethical or criminal. He or she is simply not just meeting up with expectations. How then do you handle the process respectfully and compassionately?
1. Set the right tone: Immediately you invite the person into your office for a talk, set the right tone for the conversation by going straight to the point. Let them know you have bad news. Don’t start chatting about irrelevant topics. You are only making the process clumsier.
2. Don’t trade blames: This is not the time to start recalling every challenge the employee had on the job. Just tell him or her the reason for the termination. Your main point is that the person is not a fit for your organization. Show empathy for his situation.
3. Answer questions: At this time, the employee is in shock and may demand an explanation. Calmly respond to questions even if they are thrown at you in an outburst. Resist the urge to strike back with a list of their perceived grievances.
4. Outline the next steps: Take them through the disengagement process; what severance pay would receive, benefits, company documents or property that should be returned, references etc.
5. End graciously: Thank them for their services to the company. No matter how small, everyone makes a contribution to his organization. Offer to be there for them as they work through the process. This could mean some phone calls or an occasional lunch to see how he or she is pulling through.
6. Share the news: This is a good time to address your team concerning the termination and put the rumour mill to rest. It is unnecessary to reveal details of the termination and even more insensitive to badmouth a former employee.
Your team only need know their colleague is no longer with the company except you plan on using the incident as a stern warning to others. You might also want to allay their fears of job security.
If handled correctly, the employee can continue to have positive relationships with his employer and manager for years to come.