Q. I just terminated an employee and it was an ugly, public scene. Do you have any tips for making termination meetings easier?
A. Termination meetings are never easy—for either an employee losing a job or the manager who has to handle the firing.
While you can’t eliminate the difficulties, there are ways to help minimize the trauma of the meeting both for you and the employee being terminated. Decreasing the embarrassment and conflict inwill make your job easier, can help lower the risk of lawsuits and promote better morale among remaining employees.
Smoother meetings start with planning. Think through issues such as the date, any severance being offered, benefits continuation and related transition issues. The logistics of the meeting are also important. Choose a location and time that minimizes disruption to other employees. Have more than one manager present.
The meeting itself should be respectful and brief. Draft a script that lets the employee know what is happening and briefly explains why. Don’t debate the reasons. You should anticipate possible reactions and be prepared to respond briefly and politely by repeating the company’s reason and explaining that the decision is final.
Deliver your message and turn the conversation to transition issues as soon as possible. If applicable, explain any severance or separation agreement being offered or that the company will not oppose unemployment compensation.
Also, remind the employee about any ongoing restrictions such as a noncompetition agreement. Request any information you need from the employee, such as computer passwords. Arrange to return the employee’s belongings and for the employee to turn over any company property he or she may have.