Thursday, June 19, 2008

Termination Do's, Don'ts & Dummies

Paul Simon's best-selling song, “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” was just topped by the NY Mets … their way of terminating a relationship made the headlines.

"Meet the Mess" screamed the front page of yesterday’s NY Post, referring to the firing of manager Willie Randolph, in a not-so-subtle takeoff on the club’s theme song, "Meet the Mets." And the inside articles were no less forgiving, with one stating “Mets Midnight Massacre a Disgrace” and another subtitled “Willie Out as Skipper in Unfair Late Night Shock to Met Fans.”

Randolph was fired at 3:15 AM, New York time, following a victory in California.

How you fire can be more important than why

The manner in which employees are terminated is a reflection of the attitude of the organization towards its people. When done properly, all parties can benefit, but if approached in a haphazard, inconsiderate or emotionally charged style, negative repercussions are often immediate, far-reaching and long lasting.

Firing an employee has been cited as one of the most difficult business tasks for leaders. It’s also rated as highly traumatic for the individual being terminated. All in all ... a tough situation. For an organization involved in large-scale layoffs, convenience should not preclude careful attention to each and every affected employee.

There’s a time-tested protocol for the optimum management of terminations that includes a fair measure of compassion for your employee’s circumstances.

Six steps

1. Give the employee his/her due respect. Instant termination by phone, fax or email is simply rude. Resist the temptation to be expedient. This person has been a contributor to the company. The courtesy of a face-to-face meeting is common decency.

2. Prepare for the meeting. Draft your message in advance. Set the stage by saying something like, “I have some difficult news to deliver to you,” then let them know what is happening, the reason for it and the final date of employment. Deliver your entire message, including the contents of the separation package before you take any questions from the employee. Be brief, clear and direct.

3. Make it final. This is not the time for debate, the termination is a done deal and while there may be some future negotiation about the severance details, there is no negotiation about the termination.

4. Make it private. No matter where you conduct the meeting – your office, their office or a separate conference room – ensure there are no interruptions.

5. Be sensitive. Firing someone is not an easy task, but the emotional difficulty pales in comparison to that of the person being fired. While you can’t change the situation, you should be prepared for questions.

6. Involve HR. After you’ve delivered the message, it’s usually easiest to introduce an HR professional to review the exit package, discuss written releases and other next-step activities.

Put yourself in their shoes

Would you rather be told you’re fired by your boss or by an avatar?


Anonymous said...

Great blog and spot on advice.

Anonymous said...

I read somewhere where a company hired a firm to fire workers so they didn't even know the guy firing them. Now that's really cold.



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