How to respectfully fire someone

One CEO goes over his tips for how to terminate employees while making it as painless as possible for everyone involved

How to respectfully fire someone
Faced with the unpleasantness of having to fire someone, one CEO developed a simple script to make everything as straightforward as possible for both employer and employee.
 
Writing for Entrepreneur, Shaun Buck, CEO of The Newsletter Pro, outlined his approach for handling these difficult situations.
 
“When you bring someone in to be fired, you want to make sure you start the conversation with a phrase that lets them know they are here for bad news,” he said.
 
This will give them a moment for them to brace themselves and buckle up for a tough discussion. Once this is done, he suggests just jumping straight into why you’ve called this meeting.
 
“Jim we have decided to part ways with you, effective immediately. I want you to know I have given this a lot of thought, and my decision is final,” he suggested saying.
 
Not only is this statement very brief but it also leaves no room for negotiation, he noted. There is also no attempt to offer any reasons for or justify the decision.
 
After a small pause to let the employee gather themselves, it is appropriate to move straight onto housekeeping, Buck said.
 
“Remember, they are scared right now because there are suddenly a tonne of unknowns in their life, and we need to try and ease some of those concerns.”
 
Inform the individual of the process that will occur, ie that they will be walked to their desk to gather their things after which they will be escorted out.
 
Also make sure to mention how and when the final paycheque will be delivered to them.
 
It will now be time to take some quick questions from the employee, he said.
 
“During the question part, you do NOT want to engage much. Many times, one of their questions will be ‘Why am I getting fired?’ and you should have a brief answer already prepared for that question.”
 
This answer should be kept as brief as possible, Buck suggested. It is important not to go into whether their performance was poor or if their actions had cost the company.
 
“One, they don’t care, and two, you’ve already fired them – there’s no need to kick them while they are down,” he said.
 
Using a script that is short and sweet like this allows the employer and employee to part ways as respectfully and as painlessly as possible given the circumstances.
 
Lastly, there was a very important reason why HR should be respectful throughout the firing process, Buck said: All problems a business experiences can be traced back to the leadership.
 
“This means if you are having to fire someone for a performance issue, it is very likely that somewhere in the process you or one of your managers didn’t lead or offer enough training, and that is a least part of the reason your employee is now out of a job.”

When firing someone, HR professionals are always advised to follow local employment law and regulations. Dismissals, if handled improperly, can lead to damaged corporate reputation and potential legal liability. Additionally, the above opinions are those of Shaun Buck and may not apply to all countries, jurisdictions or companies.
 
Related stories:
 
‘You’re sick? You’re fired’ – Terminating staff on sick leave
 
How soon is too soon to sack that terrible new hire?
 
Severance pay across Asia: what's the damage?

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