The Integrity News
Vol. X No. 10
April 15, 2001
CIO Magazine (pg. 72)
"10 secrets of letting people go with dignity."
Tips from outplacement experts on how to
fire people without bruising their egos.
"GIVE WARNING: All performance-based
firings should begin with a warning or
probationary period. If you let employees
know they're on the bubble, they just might
turn things around. If they've put in years
of service, it's the least they deserve.
DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT:
Once you've told an employee he's on
probation, document every task and interaction.
The better records you keep, the easier it will
be to justify your actions should you find
yourself defending them in legal proceedings.
TIME IT RIGHT: Fire early in the day and
early in the week. The worst time to terminate
an employee is the day before a weekend or
PREPARE THE PAPERWORK: Don't wait
until after you fire an employee to deliver
termination paperwork. Pay, including any
benefits and unused vacation, should be
delivered on the spot. This is not only good
policy, frequently it's the law.
DON'T GO IT ALONE: Having a representative
from the human resources department in the
room adds a sense of gravity and finality to the
termination conversation. And if the employee
asks a question you can't answer, your expert
is right there. It also provides a witness on your
side should you end up in court.
ENSURE PRIVACY: Make it clear that only
you and the HR rep will take part in the
termination meeting. Reassure the employee
that nobody else will be in on what's happening.
Neglecting this will make him self-conscious.
BE BRIEF: Say what you have to say, say it
clearly and don't say any more. Prolonging the
meeting allows the employee to believe he is
involved in a negotiation --- that there may be
a way out. When he realizes there isn't, he
will feel betrayed.
WATCH YOUR TONE: Choose your words
carefully, but make sure you convey a tone of
cordiality and sympathy. Be compassionate
but firm, honest but guarded. Never say,
"I know what you're going through" --- even
if you do.
SEEK FEEDBACK: Although its important
to keep the meeting short, encourage the
employee to voice his feelings after the news
has been delivered. If he doesn't answer
immediately, count to 20 before moving on.
The last thing you want is a reputation for
being heartless. If recriminations result,
however, take charge and cut him off;
remember that you're declaring him fired,
not engaging in a dialogue.
GIVE A GOOD SEND-OFF: Always offer
words of encouragement and confidence in
the employee's future career. Stand and
extend your hand to indicate the meeting has
ended. And of course, thank the employee
for his service. But don't be surprised or
hurt if the employee declines to thank you
for firing him."