Termination Guideline #5 — Termination meeting: Choose ‘firing words’ carefully
The time has arrived … You’ve evaluated all the reasons why an employee should be terminated. You’ve run the decision through an employment law audit and made sure you have appropriate records and documentation supporting the decision. Now it’s time to tell the employee that he or she is about to become a former employee.
How you break the news to the employee is key: Follow basic rules of legal and business etiquette to allow the employee to leave with dignity—and not return with a lawsuit.
If the employee’s manager, rather than HR, is designated the bearer of bad news, at least have an HR rep present at the meeting to answer questions the employee may have and to help reduce the risk of legal exposure by keeping both sides focused on the matter at hand. Also, it helps to have a witness, in case the employee challenges the termination later.
Briefly deliver the news by summarizing the well-documented, job-related reasons for the termination. That way, while the employee may not like it, he or she will have little to dispute. Allow the person to offer his or her side of the story—and even vent a little emotion—without interruption.
Also, avoid using any harsh words during termination meetings that would serve only to inflame the issue. Stick to the facts; don’t make generalizing statements.
Termination Guideline #6 — Conducting exit interviews
Many employers think that conducting exit interviews with employees who have been fired is a waste of time. After all, angry or bitter ex-employees would not be motivated to do something beneficial for the organization that just let them go. And if they’re harboring negative feelings toward the company, how helpful could their feedback be?
Exit interviews, whether with an employee who has been fired or who has resigned, can be a valuable resource. Information learned in an exit interview can pinpoint areas of concern and provide a foundation for implementing changes.
Use the Exit Interview Form (Involuntary Termination) included in this report as a guide for asking questions, or give it to the employee to complete during an exit interview.