We don’t want to let people go, but sometimes we have to.

Because we operate service-based businesses, managing employees is key to our success. Until we master the areas of promotion, discipline, and termination we will not be able to sustain long-term growth. Termination is the missing piece. We have to know when to let people go. It’s hard sometimes. We don’t want to let people go, but sometimes we have to.

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The Who, What, When, Where & Why of Terminating an Employee

WHO is in charge of the termination process? Is it them or you? Make sure it’s you. It’s easy to let it get spun around and lose control of the process. Don’t let that happen to you. Just quickly get the point out, say what happened, and why they are being terminated. Be clear. Don’t use words that invite ambiguity. Don’t say things like, “I think we might have to…” That’s confusing, and leads the person being terminated to think there is an opportunity for them to get their job back.

WHAT are the actions you terminating them for? Make sure you are crystal clear about the reason for termination and that the employee is clear about it too. Fewer words are better. Don’t go into a long story about why you’re firing them. You don’t need to detail every infraction.

WHEN?  Preferably on a Tuesday or Wednesday. Refrain from firing an employee on a Friday. This also goes for discipline as well as termination. Taking corrective action on a Friday often results in the person growing their anxiety over the weekend. If you are thinking of firing someone on a Friday, it may be better to wait until the following Monday.

WHERE? Seek neutral ground to do the firing. Try to find a place where the person being fired will be comfortable. You should not do this in a home or in a car. If you choose to give them the bad news in your office, make sure that you will not be interrupted. It is best to have a witness with you, but don’t leave the office door open for others to overhear.

WHY ? What’s the impact on the company, either real or potential? Relate specifics to a policy directly from your policy manual.


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