Terminating an employee can be the most difficult thing to do for most managers, but if conducted in a professional manner, with proper preparation, you can get through the conversation feeling confident and self-assured.
Always conduct the termination in person and have another management official present in the meeting as a witness. The termination should be conducted in a private room away from other employees to ensure confidentiality. Make sure you conduct the termination in a room in which you feel comfortable, as well as the employee.
Before the meeting make sure that you have properly prepared all relevant documentation, such as, disciplinary action forms, attendance records, performance evaluations and the specific documentation leading to the termination decision. The documentation should show how the case is built, supporting the reason for the termination. Documentation is very important for terminations, as it is critical should an employee ever decide to file a lawsuit. The most important thing you can do as a manager is to make sure you properly document all employee performance and/or conduct issues.
When starting the meeting with the employee, begin by informing the employee that you are terminating his/her employment as of a particular date. It is important to be direct and to the point with the information so the employee understands the decision is final and not up for negotiation. Try to stay away from ambiguous language, such as “things just aren’t working out”. You do not want any misunderstandings with the employee, this is a Termination!
Next, you should briefly explain the reason for the termination in a very professional and unbiased tone. In most cases, the employee will disagree with you and may even try to draw you into an argument. Some employees just want to vent and go off into long conversations regarding the reasons that led up to the termination. Stay focused and just let the employee know that you truly understand how they feel however the decision is final.
Finally, you want to inform the employee of the final benefits. This can be done by providing the employee a well prepared letter of termination, which will include all pertinent information regarding the effective date of termination, pay and benefits; to include the date of their final pay, dates various insurance benefits will end, information regarding COBRA, etc. Make sure to discuss the letter in detail with the employee and have the employee sign the letter to be placed in his/her termination file. Discuss how the employee will receive his/her personal items and request company items from the employee, such as key fobs, keys, credit cards, etc.
Conclude the meeting in a positive and friendly manner. Provide the employee with your contact information and the contact information for Human Resources in case he/she has future questions. At this point, you may choose to say something positive and end the meeting by wishing the employee good luck.
Although terminations are difficult and many times the hardest thing for most managers to do, they are often necessary in the workplace. Remember to remain professional, with proper preparation, be direct and to the point. One can never predict the results of a termination meeting or what will occur, however, if well prepared terminations can be done with ease!