Perhaps not so surprisingly, the Donlad Trump method of termination may not be the best course to follow. Simply shouting “you’re fired” after a steadily berating an employee is not going to work for the average employer. But, then again, nothing about Mr. Trump is average.
Whether it’s because of a budget cut, a restructuring, or poor performance, terminating an employee (for the “average” employer) is never easy. For one reason or another, you decided to employ this individual at one time. You initially saw value in him or her and now you must somehow say that the value you once saw is either no longer there or no longer needed. It’s a touchy, tricky situation, so we have compiled a few best practice tips to keep in mind.
1. Keep it about the employee, not about you.
Inc.com recently released a list of “The 10 Worst Things to Say When You Fire an Employee.” For the most part, their advice centers on the principal that it is not about you (the employer) it is about the person being terminated. Saying things like:
“Look, this is really hard for me.”
“We’ve decided we need to make a change.”
“We both know you aren’t happy here, so down the road you’ll be glad.”
“If there’s anything I can do for you, just let me know.”
Ouch, ouch, ouch, and OUCH. The statements above just added insult to injury on four counts. Not a single one of these sentences will actually comfort or ease the pinch that’s being felt by the employee who’s just been given an invitation to the nearest exit. If you hope to separate on good terms with the employee (which you do—I’ll tell you why in #3), it is imperative that the termination be informational and matter-of-fact as possible. A certain degree of empathy is reasonable, but it is important that you are not solely focused on consoling the employee or on making yourself feel better.
2. Create a checklist and stick to it.
It’s a good idea to have a checklist in hand. You don’t want to forget to say something, not have an answer, or, perhaps worse, send an employee out the door before collecting all of their company-issued property. After realizing the value of something like this, Hire EQ created an Employee Separation Checklist* that we now provide for our clients as needed. Our list is divided in two parts: administrative tasks and payroll/benefits.
The administrative list contains things like: deactivate e-mail and voice mail, collect keys, and communicate the departure to other staff members. On the payroll/benefit list we remind employers to: terminate benefits, provide COBRA information and terminate from payroll.
Bottom line here is that you want to be prepared and informed. The termination can be hard enough without having to fumble through with uncertainty or delay the process because you failed to get all of the information prepared ahead of time.
3. Keep final impressions in mind.
Former employees will move on to talk about their experience with your company. It might not matter if you did everything right as an employer in the years that said employees worked for you—they will most remember the end–their final impression. How you handle an employee’s departure might mean everything to how he or she goes on to talk, post, tweet, or blog about you. And, in today’s socially networked world, all of those will happen—sometimes immediately!
*If you would like to see the employee separation checklist, feel free to contact us for a copy.