Terminating an employee is one of the most stressful tasks managers and HR pros will ever have to face. Don't let a difficult job turn into a legal nightmare too. A former employee who feels she's been wronged is a lawsuit waiting to happen. Avoid these common firing mistakes, and you'll probably avoid an expensive trip to court as well.
1. Making it a surprise.
Workers should never be completely surprised by a performance-based termination; they should be given enough regular feedback and chances to improve to know that the end is near.
2. Going off script.
Follow your established discipline policy. If it says you’ll provide an oral warning, a written warning and a probationary period, then stick to the process. Of course, your handbook also should give you the right to immediately terminate workers who engage in serious misconduct. But before you skip, make sure you have all the facts.
3. Being too kind or apologetic.
You may feel compassion for the employee, but don’t express your feelings the wrong way. If a worker’s performance was substandard, don’t offer compliments to ease the pain. That approach may make you feel better, but it will only infuriate the worker because it will appear he’s being fired for no reason—or a discriminatory one.
4. Loose lips.
Don’t discuss your reasons for the termination with other employees; and make sure other managers do the same. It’s enough to say, “Kevin will not be working with us anymore.”