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“I’m afraid we’re going to have to let you go”

Date: 02/08/2007 | Category: Business | Author: Diana Heeb Bivona

No one likes to give or be on the receiving end of a termination.  It’s human nature to want to avoid conflict whenever possible.  However, as business owners and managers we often must perform the task of terminating an employee.  Not only is this a stressful situation for all involved, but it can  be a potentially litigious one if not handled correctly.

How you handle the situation can have a huge impact on the outcome.  Choosing to remain professional and to treat the employee with dignity and respect — regardless of how you may personally feel — is paramount.  Also try to:

  1. Clearly outline the reasons why the employee is being terminated.  If need be, put it in writing to avoid any misunderstanding.
  2. Provide the employee with an opportunity to discuss it.  It may not prove to be pleasant dealing with pent up emotions, but it may provide the employee with an opportunity to come to terms and accept responsibility for their actions that led them to this point.
  3. Handle all terminating paperwork at the time of dismissal.  If the employee is eligible for COBRA or other company benefit program’s have the paperwork ready to go.  Explain what needs to be done and ask them if they have any questions.
  4. Prepare a reference letter.  Every one has some redeeming quality.  If they hadn’t, you would probably never have hired them.  Focus on the positive – always on time, had perfect attendance, etc.  Discuss it with the employee so there won’t be any surprises down the line.
  5. Part amicably.  The terminated employee may feel angry or resentful about being terminated, but if treated with professionally with respect and dignity they are likely to deal with the situation better in the long run.  Also remember that most employees leave friends behind when they leave.  Do you want your other employees to become aware of how terminated employees are treated? Morale issues are the last thing you want to address.
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