Deciding to let go of an employee is always a hard choice. Assuming that there is no salvaging the relationship it is best to let them go gracefully. As a note, we always recommend that you attempt to coach the employee before terminating their employment. We compiled a step by step guide on how to let go of an employee gracefully.
Step 1: Choose a quiet private setting.
- Do not fire someone in an open setting where others are around, or in a room with lots of windows where other coworkers may see.
- Have a witness with you if you do not think it is going to go smoothly.
- If you know the employee may get emotional be sure to read the room and make sure you have the right witness with you (if HR is not letting the employee go we highly recommend that you have HR or a member of your HR team present).
- We also recommend terminating the employee at the end of the day or week to ensure that other coworkers continue to be productive.
Step 2: Don't beat around the bush.
- Get right to the point of your meeting.
- Don't waste theirs and your time with idle chit chat, it is disrespectful to all parties.
- Clearly, present the documented reason for termination.
- Review all documentation that is needed to be completed by the employee. Walk them through step by step what will be required by them.
Step 3: Give the employee time.
- Allow the employee time to ask questions and digest the information. If the manager has done their job, the team member should not be 100% shocked by being let-go.
- Answer questions respectfully and do not be combative, defensive, or inflammatory towards the employee.
- Be honest, if you do not have the answer to the employee's question say you don't know. You do not want to make promises that your company can't keep.
Step 4: Define a plan.
- The employee might not want to sign anything right away. Let them take their documents home to review if needed.
- Have a clearly defined timeline and plan for when documentation will be expected back.
- Confirm the employee's personal contact information; this includes a phone number, home address, and email address.
- Ensure they are aware of when their last paycheck will be paid to them and if there are any other documents they might be expecting.
Step 5: Do a walkout.
- Kindly offer to walk the employ back to their desk while they pack their belongings or offer to pack up their space for them.
- Ensure that the employee has left all office property in the office. If they have office property offsite clearly define a plan for the return of the property (we recommend a pre-purchased shipping label, so they do not have to return to the office).
- Escort them to their car/ off of the property. If the employee has the potential to become combative notify security in advance so that they may be on standby.
Step 6: Communicate with others
- Immediately following the employee's termination inform the IT department so that all electronic communication and accesses can be stopped and forwarded to the proper people.
- Inform the ex-coworkers team that the employee has been let go.
- Have a plan to distribute the terminated employee's workload to other team member and communicate who will take over what tasks and for how long.
Step 7: Have a follow-up plan
- Have an independent party conduct an exit interview a few days after the employee has been terminated.
- The independent party should not be someone in their department or their boss but should be someone that the ex-employee feels comfortable answering honestly too.
- Do a check to ensure that all property and documents have been returned.
- Have an action plan for any items or documents that have not been returned by the previously agreed upon date.
Use these seven steps to ensure that your employee termination goes as smoothly as possible.