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Friday, March 12, 2010

Terminate With Dignity


In my business coaching and consulting practice, I often see business owners who are reluctant to terminate an employee even though the employee is a drag on the entire organization.  This reluctance is often based of fear:
  • Fear of a lawsuit or a unemployment claim
  • Fear of hurting the morale of the other employees
  • The fear of what it will do to the terminated employee and his/her family


Assuming you have do a good job in giving the employee written warnings, the termination will not come as a surprise.  Here are four easy steps to follow:
  1. Review your action with a competent labor attorney.  Make sure the attorney sees everything so there are no surprises.  I have worked with Judy Osborn who is an excellent attorney and excellent communicator.  You can reach her at judy@judyosborn.com
  2. Make the termination discussion very brief.  You have made the decision and there is nothing the employee can say that will change your mind.  Long drawn our conversations at this point do not serve anyone.
  3. If the employee has been with the company for a number of years, severance pay may be appropriate.  Have all the details worked out so you are not fumbling around for papers to sign and other things.  This includes access to the computer and other sensitive information.
  4. Have a convenient time and way for the employee to remove their personal belongings.
  5. It is recommended the termination take place at the beginning of the week; either Monday or Tuesday.  This allows you to maintain control over the communications by calling a meeting to let other employees know of your decision to terminate.
    Remember the employee may be in shock even though not totally surprised.  Do not take personally what they may say to you at that moment.  There is never a good time to terminate and they will tell you that.

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