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How to Fire With Compassion and Class

Employment Termination for Non-Performance: The Termination Meeting**

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These are the steps to use when you schedule and conduct an employment termination meeting.

  • Schedule a meeting that includes the employee, the employee’s supervisor and either a Human Resources representative, or in some cases, the supervisor’s manager. I recommend these meetings are held mid-afternoon on a Tuesday or Wednesday so that the employee has the ability to start a job search immediately.


  • Be straight forward. Tell the employee her job is terminated. Tell the employee the reason for the employment termination. Be civil, concise, and compassionate.


  • Respect the person's dignity. Allow her to speak if she wants to and ask any questions she may have. You may even engage in some discussion about what went wrong in the employment relationship. Example, perhaps the person was not a good “fit” for the position from the beginning. Perhaps the employee’s work style is too slow for the pace of the company. Perhaps the employee had become so bored, she wanted to be fired. At no point, however, allow the person to think you might be “talked out of" the decision to terminate her employment.


  • The employee may try to "get even”, to lash out and make you wrong. Don't become angry, argue with the employee, or try to settle the score. Recognize going in to the meeting that you are likely very disappointed, too. You had an expensive investment in this employee’s success, both personally and financially. You will have to recruit and train the employee’s replacement. Make sure your emotions are under control so you can remain compassionate and respectful.


  • You can assess by the way the meeting has gone whether discussion or advice to the departing employee would be helpful. I find that I can help by discussing the kind of job the employee might succeed in, how to locate job searching resources, school attendance ideas, and the employee’s strengths. I have consistent feedback from former employees that this brief discussion helped them clarify their direction and helped them move on. You build the employee’s self-esteem, and help them begin the process of job searching.


  • Collect all company property or determine its location.


  • Give the employee a choice about who among the meeting attendees will walk her out of the building. Give the employee a choice about whether she wants to remove personal belongings from her work station now or after hours.


  • Complete all of the steps in your Employment Ending Checklist

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**Please Note: I make every effort to offer you common-sense, ethical management advice, but I am not an attorney and the articles on the site are not to be construed as legal advice. The site has a world-wide audience and employment laws and regulations vary from state to state and country to country. When in doubt, always seek legal counsel.

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