9 Steps in Properly Terminating Employees
One of the most difficult things you may have to do as a small business owner is terminate an employee. Regardless of the reason for taking such action, it’s important that you follow a procedure that ensures you are not only legally protected but also respectful of the employee’s feelings as well. Last week we shared the first 4 of 9 steps in properly terminating employees:
1. Be objective
2. Make it legal
3. Work out the details
4. Provide reasons, but don’t belabor the point
This week we’ll share the final 5 steps:
5. Don’t blame or apologize. If termination is the result of poor employee behavior, you should have already issued various warnings and performance reviews as documentation. The final termination meeting is not a time to assign blame. And while you may very well express regret for this action, you should not apologize for your decision.
6. Express gratitude for work done. Once you explain the reasons for termination, you can thank the employee for the work they have done. In his article entitled “How to Respectfully Terminate Employees,” Lolito explains, “A terminated employee should understand that while the employment relationship did not work out, the employer appreciated her service and does not fault her in a personal sense.” In the case of a layoff, offer to write a letter of recommendation and, if you truly valued their work, tell them you would be happy to have them back once the business can sustain that.
7. Let the employee respond. It’s important that the employee have a voice. Give him or her the opportunity to respond and react to the decision. However, as mentioned previously, don’t allow the meeting to turn into a debate or negotiation.
8. Wrap up loose ends. Be sure to have the employee sign all necessary paperwork, and then take measures to close down their appropriate accounts. AllBusiness.com recommends, “Prepare to collect everything the company has provided to the employee, and consider which computer passwords, access codes, and permissions must be changed.”
9. Note lessons learned. Once the process is complete it’s important that you review the situation and see what lessons you have learned. Do you need to create or modify your company handbook in order to address some of the issues you encountered? Should you revise the job description to better attract applicants with the skills you require? What types of training might be required in order to ensure that your employees are aware of your expectations? All this will help you better prepare, and perhaps even eliminate, similar situations in your business’s future.
Termination is distasteful for both the employer and the employee. However, if you could take measures to ensure it’s done properly, you will save yourself a lot of difficulty in the future.
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“How to Fire an Employee.” AllBusiness.com
Lolito, Michael J. “How to Respectfully Terminate Employees.” 18 August 2008 Entrepreneur.com