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How to Terminate an Employee

How to Terminate an Employee

Matt Krumrie /

June 23, 2008

Letting an employee go is a difficult situation most managers want to avoid, but with the right preparation and professionalism, you can get through such a tough talk with your dignity (and your employee’s) intact.

Firing Best Practices

Another manager or HR representative should always be present, especially if terminating a potentially hostile employee or one who might twist your words or make false accusations. It is also best to include a balance of genders, says Lissa Weimelt, principal with The Hiring Experts, a retained executive search firm.

The best place to terminate is a private office or meeting room close to an exit — there is nothing worse than an upset employee having to traipse through a workplace to find his way out.

Out of respect for and fairness to the employee, terminate as early in the workweek and day as possible. In addition, bring tissues and water as well as the phone number for an employee assistance program representative, if available, says Scott Cawood, PhD, president of ModernThink, an employee management consulting firm.

“If you let someone work all day, then they are giving to the company, and other employees will see this as disrespectful that you let them give all day long, or all week long, then fired them at the last possible moment,” says Cawood, author of Destination Profit: Creating People-Profit Opportunities in Your Organization. "Fire them early and pay them for the day, but let them leave right after the meeting.

There are logistical issues to work out, too. Cawood once had to terminate an employee who used a company car. How will that employee get home? Finally, have any necessary paperwork or documents ready to avoid scrambling for them as the employee tries to leave.

Next: What to Say and How to Say it

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