Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Must-Do's At The Termination Meeting

Were you one of those 240,000 who the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported lost their jobs in the first quarter of 2008?

If you were prepared for that termination meeting you made all the right moves. If you weren’t, you may have sacrificed some of the severance, positive recommendations, and outplacement services you could have received.

Here are the six critical must-dos every executive should have down cold before any signs of being let go emerge.

1. The termination process is a business one. Like any other business task it’s up to you to effectively manage it. That includes controlling your emotions. Those should be held carefully in check. This is not the time to vent your feelings.

2. Mixed in with these business realities are legal ones. Your employer is handling the details, including what is said and agreed to in this meeting, in compliance with a number of laws. Therefore, you should be thinking and talking “like a lawyer.” You want to make sure you understand what's being told to you. Carefully re-state the reason they give you for your termination. “Let me see if I understand you correctly, I’m part of a larger downsizing and this is not a performance issue?’”

3. Don't sign or agree to anything on the spot. This is absolutely not the time to negotiate. In most terminations, little is cast in stone. That means there may be room for negotiation. But now is not the time.

4. Don’t rush to wrap this up just in order to end the ordeal. If you have questions, ask them. You usually will be given a written separation package including a release. Ask how long you have before you need to sign and return the agreement. Take that time.

5. It may be advisable to consult with a lawyer. Actually, many firms will mention that at the termination meeting. But if they don't, there's no advantage to you in bringing it up.

6. This meeting may or may not coincide with it being your last day on the job. If it is, find out how your personal belongings will be returned to you and how incoming emails and phone calls to you will be handled.

If ever there was a time to follow the Boy Scout motto, it is during a termination meeting. Be prepared.

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