September 7th, 2016


  The Dreaded Termination Conversation
By:  Nicole D. Lindsey and Heather Rooney McBride
Once all the documentation is in place and human resources has been consulted, it is time to pull the trigger and convene the termination conversation.  Human resources or the supervisor can help arrange the right time and circumstance to minimize the possibility of disruptive behavior and to have the appropriate security, if needed.  It is also important to have a third party witness present during the termination conversation aside from the manager and the employee.
Tip #1 – Try to avoid heightening an already emotional situation.  There is likely to be a lot of emotion on both sides, particularly if the manager and employee have been at odds for any length of time.  Give the employee an opportunity to talk and give his side of the story, without comment.  Then, firmly and politely say the discussion is over, and the decision is final.
Tip #2 – Be prepared.  Approaching a termination meeting without preparing is highly discouraged.  Rest assured, the terminated employee will remember every word the manager says during the termination meeting, and in the worst possible light.  Therefore, it is important that the manager be prepared for the meeting and that he/she spend some time considering the topics that he/she will want to avoid discussing.  The employee will probably have at least one issue he will want to debate; be prepared to cut off unproductive debates while being sure the employee has an opportunity to talk.  See Tip #1.
Tip #3 – Stick to the facts.  Convening a termination meeting is not easy, and managers often feel compassion for the employee they must fire.  However, expressing those feelings to the employee can backfire.  For example, if an employee is being fired for substandard performance, the manager should not offer compliments on any aspect of the employee’s job performance so as to avoid confusion and question.  While offering some small compliment may make the manager feel better, it will only serve to confuse the employee and may result in question and challenge of the termination decision.  Avoid all off-hand comments.  Simply stick to the facts.
After the terminated employee has departed, managers should simply advise other employees that the terminated employee is no longer with the company; managers should not offer details as to the reasons for the termination.  If pressed, it is advisable to state that it is a confidential matter.
How should reference requests be handled?  Carefully.  Reference requests can be a trouble spot for companies when too much information is offered.  When a potential employer calls for a reference for an employee who was fired, the best policy is to say as little as possible and to stick to facts that can be proven.  Some human resource departments give out only dates of employment, job title, final salary, and whether the former employee is eligible for re-hire.  Other employers keep a record of all reference requests and only provide references in writing so there is an accurate record of the information released.  The employer should develop a consistent policy as to how to handle reference requests and make sure to stick to the facts; offering opinion or too much detail regarding a former employee’s performance or the circumstances of a termination can prove problematic.