Best Practices for Respectfully Letting an Employee Go

Employment termination can be an emotional process, but it doesn't have to be thoughtless or cruel.

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By Warith Niallah

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

No one likes letting an employee go, particularly if the decision was strictly based in business sense and not a consequence of inappropriate conduct. But it doesn't have to be a destructive exercise. Just follow these best practices.

Explain the reason for termination

This is essential. Be clear and concise, and avoid any personal attacks or disparaging remarks. Remember that "termination" is a legal term, and an attorney could use anything you say about an employee against your company if the termination ends up in court.

Avoid anger

It's best to remain calm and neutral during termination discussions. If you feel upset or angry, take a break from the meeting so both parties can discuss things calmly with clear heads when it's their turn to speak. Anger will only lead to arguments; end the session on good terms by remaining professional at all times.

Related: 4 Ways to Defuse Your Anger Before It Blows Up Your Career

Keep the meeting short and sweet

There's no need to drag termination discussions on and on. Keep it brief, concise and professional; this will help both parties feel respected during the process.

Follow termination procedures

Make sure your company has a clear termination policy in place before letting an employee go. Your HR department should be able to provide you with any documentation or forms required for termination meetings if needed. If you are a single owner, then create a clear termination policy.

You can also avoid unnecessary stress by preparing these things ahead of time so everything runs well during the meeting. If specific policies must be followed (such as giving written notice), make sure everyone is aware of them at the beginning of the discussion rather than waiting until later.

Related: Why HR Policies Are Prerequisites to Organizational Excellence

Thank the employee for their time and service

Thanking the employee for their time and service is crucial in termination. It is essential to express your gratitude for their contributions, even if they are no longer with the company. You should write a termination letter to thank them for their time and effort and explain the termination situation.

Keeping everything respectful will help prevent future lawsuits from unhappy employees and separate your business from negative news stories about wrongful discharges.

Related: What to Do If an Employee Sues You or Your Company

Ask for feedback

The termination process should not be one-sided. If you have any questions or would like feedback from the terminated employee, be sure to ask them. Feedback can help you learn from any mistakes made and improve your termination process in the future. It can also prevent potential legal issues down the road if an employee decides to take legal action against your company.

The final thing to remember is to end the meeting positively, even if things didn't go perfectly. Thank the employee for their time and efforts once again, and wish them success in future endeavors. Leave on good terms so both parties part ways amicably.

Warith Niallah

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

CEO of FTC Publications, Inc.

Warith Niallah is a media executive, journalist, author and information technology specialist. He has been dedicated to journalism since 1988 and is adept at seeking the truth, protecting sources and knowing if the information is accurate, forthcoming and reliable.

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