Terminating an employee is never easy. Nobody enjoys the process but it is a necessary evil of business. If handled correctly, employee termination doesn’t need to result in conflict. There are steps that all HR professionals, business owners or managers should take when letting go of an employee.

Preparation for a Termination Meeting

You can’t wing it when you’re dealing with employee termination. This is something that needs to be carefully planned and executed to minimize fallout, stress, and conflict for all involved.

Gather Evidence

Terminations don’t usually come out of the blue, especially if there are performance related or disciplinary issues. If you’re terminating an employee for these reasons, you need to have properly documented evidence; emails, performance reviews, disciplinary hearings and meeting notes.

Stay within the Law

Pinpoint the main reasons for the termination, is it downsizing, company restructuring, redundancy, violation of policy or performance related. Consult an HR specialist to ensure that the reason is not discriminatory or unlawful.

Prepare for Questions

Be prepared to answer any questions the employee might ask, especially regarding pay, benefits, and procedures that need to be followed. The process can be overwhelming for all parties so prepare a folder to hand to the employee containing all relevant information.

The Termination Meeting

Handling the termination of an employee with professionalism and sensitivity will result in the best outcome for both parties. Regardless of the reasons for the termination, it is important to treat the employee with dignity, respect, and honesty.

Be Brief and to the Point

This meeting needs to focus only on reasons pertinent to the employee’s termination. It should begin by succinctly communicating the company’s decision and presenting the employee with a termination letter, outlining the reasons for termination and expectations moving forward, including final pay, benefits, and any legal restrictions.

Good Timing

The timing of the meeting is important. The best day is Monday, this gives everyone at work time to adjust to the new situation, and gives the employee time to begin looking for alternative employment immediately.

Meet in Private

Termination meetings should always be held in a private area, like a conference room, where other employees can’t see or hear the discussion. But it is important to have a witness at the meeting so that if the employee decides to take legal action it won’t turn into a he-said-she-said situation. The witness should be from HR or senior management.

Handling Conflict

No matter how well prepared you are for the meeting, and even if the employee knows what’s coming, they could still react badly. You need to stay calm and give them time to vent. If an employee responds emotionally, show compassion and understanding but make sure they are clear about the company’s message and the process surrounding the termination.

After Termination

You need to have a plan for moving forward after the termination meeting.

Notify Stakeholders

Be proactive and communicate with all stakeholders as soon as possible. Give a concise explanation and focus on how the company is moving forward.

Be Prepared

Activate a plan to have existing employees pick up the slack. If the terminated employee deals with customers, ensure that there is a competent staff member to replace them immediately. Customers don’t want to know about your internal problems.

Maintain Confidentiality

Termination meetings are confidential and must not be discussed with other employees.

Terminating an employee is never easy but, if handled correctly, it can be conflict-free.

About the Author: Jocelyn Pick