Top Ten Things to Remember When Firing an Employee

By Stephanie Hammerwold

Terminations are one of my least favorite parts of working in HR. Even when an employee has committed a serious enough violation to warrant it or when they have been given opportunities to improve, the decision to fire someone is not an easy one. The decision to terminate should be carefully thought out, and you should feel confident in your decision by the time you get to the termination meeting. Here, in no particular order, are the top ten things to remember when dealing with a termination.

  1. No matter how hard the termination is for you, it is much harder for the employee who is losing their job.
  2. Be confident in your decision, and avoid lengthy discussions about the termination when you meet with the employee. By this point, the employee has already been given ample opportunity to improve, or they have committed a major policy violation that warrants immediate termination. There is not much room for an employee to plead their case.
  3. Have plenty of documentation to back up your decision to terminate. This can include warnings, performance reviews, email, samples of work, investigation notes or anything that supports your decision.
  4. Review other terminations to ensure that similarly situated employees have been treated the same way.
  5. Get your emotions in check before the termination meeting. Do not enter the meeting feeling extremely angry or upset.
  6. Give the employee the space to have an emotional response to getting the news that they are losing their job.
  7. Have another manager or HR person in the room during the termination meeting as a witness in case any issues come up. This person can also escort the terminated employee from the building.
  8. Plan the termination meeting for a time when it is easy for the terminated employee to leave the building easily without having to talk to coworkers.
  9. Have a plan in place for how the terminated employee will gather their personal belongings from their workstation.
  10. Be kind. Getting the news of termination is difficult to hear, so approach the conversation with compassion.

For more tips on making terminations a little less difficult, see my Blogging4Jobs post.