There is never a good time to be laid off from a job. In addition to the loss of income, many people define themselves by what they do. To these employees, being laid off can be a blow both economically and emotionally.
That’s why it’s so important to relay this news to workers in a way that minimizes the possibility of a violent reaction. The best way to accomplish this is to remain respectful of the individual so that they can maintain their dignity. Here are some tips to help you terminate without destroying the employee’s ego:
- Be explicit about the reason(s) for termination. If economic conditions have required you to let this employee go, you need to explain the justification for your actions. Don’t attempt to spare your employee’s feelings. If this person was chosen for termination instead of a colleague who has similar responsibilities, you must be explicit about what other issues, such as chronic lateness/absenteeism, poor performance, etc. influenced your decision. Be prepared to backup your statements with written documentation that verifies your decisions.
- Choose an appropriate time. You should always terminate an employee early in the day and early in the week. Never terminate on a Friday or on the day before a holiday.
- Have the termination paperwork ready. You should provide the employee with all information about pay, benefits, and unused vacation time during the termination interview. Be ready to answer all questions regarding what they are entitled to, especially if there is a severance package.
- Ask for the assistance of your Human Resources professional. Having an HR person sit in on the termination interview can be helpful because they can answer questions about benefits in greater detail.
- Conduct the interview in privacy. Hold the termination meeting in your office, and close the door so that other employees can’t overhear the proceedings. Assure the employee that no part of your conversation will be repeated to other employees. Also explain the wording that will be used to announce the employee’s departure to the rest of the staff.
- Don’t overstate. Once you have explained the reasons for the termination and what benefits the employee is entitled to and given the employee time to ask questions, bring the meeting to a close. The longer you stay in the room, the more opportunity there is for the employee to try to negotiate to get the job back. This type of situation has the potential for violence.
- Be mindful of your tone throughout the meeting. Be direct, but compassionate. Never try to commiserate with the employee.
- Stay in charge of the meeting. The employee might attempt to deflect blame to save their job. Don’t allow this to continue. Politely interrupt the employee and explain that the decision has been made and is not reversible.
- Offer some words of encouragement. End the meeting by thanking the employee for their service and wishing them well in their future career.