Terminating Employees

One of the most difficult jobs that a manager must undertake is to fire an employee. Firing is hard enough with a new employee. But, firing someone who has been with you for a long time is very difficult.

How you conduct the termination meeting will make the difference between bad emotional feelings and effective management. You should first do everything possible to save the individual. There are only two reasons why people are fired. They either can’t or won’t do the job. If they can’t, it may be the company’s fault because it has them in the wrong position. Every effort should be made to move them into a position that will utilize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. If they won’t do the job properly, you need to pursue all avenues to correct the problem. Communications with the individual are vital at this point.

First, be sure your decision to fire is valid and legal. Written communication, with the employee’s signature is vital. Obtain the necessary approvals before you take the action. Conduct the meeting in a private location, preferably at the end of the day or work-week. Obviously, don’t be abrupt but do keep it brief. A prolonged discussion  just creates more disagreements and problems. Clearly state your reasons. No one should be surprised because you should have had several discussions about the problem. Offer any assistance in outplacement.

If possible, offer yourself as a reference. If not, you may want to explain that without written authorization from the individual, you will not be giving a reference to future employers. Either you or a representative from the personnel department should be prepared to discuss unpaid vacation, severance pay, medical insurance conversion, and so on.