Tactful Terminations


Posted By

Sep 7th, 2010

We HR people are relationship masters. And what better domain to master than the termination . It’s everyone’s least favorite subject. But, for a myriad of reasons, terminations are a reality in the workplace. Some employees leave by choice and some employees leave by force. For those employees receiving the metaphorical “boot”, I suggest that you treat them with dignity and respect during their exit. No matter why they are being terminated, they are at a very vulnerable point.

I know, I know, security experts and even seasoned HR professionals may tell you that you have to use the “surprise attack” when handling a termination – a form of “Termination Tae-Kwon-Do”. According to some, it is better to remove the employee from the office, not allowing them to say goodbye to friends or collect their personal belongings. In the case of any personal effects left behind, the company will mail them to the employee. Too bad, the employee’s broken pride and hurt feelings can’t be mailed, as well.

To this idea, I say, “No Way!” Unless the terminated employee is a proven threat to the workplace or there is some indication based upon past behavior that this employee will not go quietly, give the employee the opportunity to exit on their own terms. If that means the employee wants to say goodbye to their friends, allow this. If the employee wants to come back after-hours with a member of the HR team to collect their personal belongings, allow this. If the employee would simply like to disappear into the night without any fanfare, allow this. My point – if I haven’t made it clear – is allow the employee some choice in how their termination is represented to the company. Especially in the case of long term employees that are being terminated through no real fault of their own.

Ask the Employee

If you want to know the best way to handle the termination, ask the employee.

A simple question about the employee’s wishes can save you a lot of heartache down the road. And I say, if the request it reasonable, grant it!

What about the rest of us?
The way you handle a termination isn’t only about the terminated employee. Your surviving employees are watching, as well. The last thing you want to do is leave your existing employees with a poor image of the company. In the case of mangled terminations, employee conspiracy theories spread like wildfire.

Even more destructive than conspiracy theories are the feelings of insecurity employees are left with. To a relatively new employee watching you dismiss a long term employee of say, 15 years, without any compassion, you can be sure your relatively new employee is thinking that you may someday do the same thing to them.


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      11 Nov 2010

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    13 Nov 2010

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    Mel Transo

    26 Nov 2010

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