How to Conduct Terminations

If you own a company, you need to be ok with terminating employees. It’s never easy but it is a necessity if you want to ensure you are working with the right people. Some owners hate it so much they just hope their broken relationship employee quits. That’s not the answer and will cause even more problems.

We can all agree that an employee has a right to leave and take another job, so why is the opposite so difficult? The key is to do it right and do it with respect. Here are a few tips.

Prepare Your Paperwork

I recommend putting things into writing even when you are not legally required. It makes it clear and allows the employee to read things over when they leave the meeting. I suggest having two copies of everything and placing one copy in a sealed envelop or package for taking away. It’s helpful to have a package ready for the employee for when they leave and things sink in.

Find a Quite and Confidential Place

Conduct the meeting in a place that is quiet and private. Terminations can be emotional, so a quiet place will allow the employee to ask questions or be emotional without being embarrassed.

The Process Should be Quick

The decision should be final with no room for negotiation or changing your mind. Based on that the message should be quick and to the point. Don’t beat around the bush or search for feedback from the employee. Provide the message, review the letter and help them leave the premises with dignity.

The Employee Should be the First to Know

Besides the manager/owner, the employee should be the first to hear the news. No one else in the office should know. I have witnessed situations where everyone in the office knows the termination is coming and the employee is the last to know. This should never be the case; tell the employee and update the team after. It’s important to tell the team after and ensure it doesn’t become a water cooler conversation. Any concerns or questions should be kept to a minimum and addressed by the manager or HR.

Be Prepared for Emotional Reactions, but do not React

It will come as a shock to the employee so expect emotions such as anger, crying, laughing, diversion, finger-pointing, etc. The key is to let it happen, within reason, and don’t react. For example, if the employee says “it’s doesn’t matter, I never liked you anyway and you are a terrible manager”, do not respond or fuel the fire. Give the employee the benefit of the doubt. Your role is to give the message, support the employee and get them to finish up.

Have HR Support or a 3rd Party Expert

A great method is to have the manager deliver the message and then turn it over to an HR person to handle the details. This takes the manager out of the equation and the HR person becomes the support person. The HR person should also follow up later that day or the next day to ensure the employee is doing ok or answer any questions.

These are just a few tips. In the end, if performed correctly and with respect, the person will recover and hopefully learn to accept and move on. Being terminated shouldn’t have shame and like most relationships, there is a beginning and an endpoint. If you do need assistance or 3rd party support with a termination reach out to us at or (709) 697-2423

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