Firing an employee is never an enjoyable conversation, even if the termination is the best outcome for both parties. With many HR leaders focusing on how to retain the talent they have, sometimes they can overlook best practice when it comes to letting employees go.
So, what are the biggest mistakes made by leaders during the termination process? We spoke to Jacqueline English, HR practitioner and consultant, who gave us her top three ways you’re slipping up.
The first mistake happens before the termination conversation even begins, English explained – namely, tackling the situation alone.
“There is the safety perspective, so that in itself is rationale to not go it alone, but it’s also about protecting yourself from a potential ‘he said/she said’ situation,” English told us. “I always recommend the Manager deliver the short message and then quickly turn it over to the HR person to finish off the meeting.
“They will handle the details of the termination letter, recommend the employee seek legal advice before signing back the letter of acknowledgment, answer any initial questions and afterwards, document the termination conversation.”
And whilst it’s important to approach the interview with a back-up, it’s equally as important that the manager in charge does the talking.
“Often in such an awkward situation, there is a desire to overdo it on the dialogue and explain the rationale for how the decision came to be,” added English. “With this the employee may demand more information around the decision-making process that led to termination.”
One of the most interesting points highlighted by English was how managers can sometimes have a propensity to forget the individuals they’re letting go.
“Does Frank have a desk full of family photos and snacks in his drawer?” she asked. “How will you respond when Suzie demands to clean out her desk in a very open concept office as the tears are streaming down her face and she is yelling obscenities?
“These are the things you need to plan out and have your responses well prepared.”
What mistakes do you see during terminations? Tell us in the comments.
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