TERMINATION INTERVIEWS: INVOLUNTARY TERMINATION
For whatever reason, it has become necessary to let someone go. These terminations can be the result of a number of factors; poor performance, disciplinary infractions, outsourcing, downsizing, or mergers are a few possible examples. These interviews should be kept separate from exit interviews, but depending on the nature of the termination, these interviews may be merged together. The direct supervisor should be the one giving the news to the employee.
I hope you did your homework before stepping into the interview. Check your paperwork, check it twice; you do not want to terminate for the wrong reasons. Depending on the nature of the termination, you should have disciplinary documents on hand to be able to discuss any issues that led to this decision. It is suggested that you schedule your interview on either a Friday. A Friday termination will tend to approach the employee at their lowest energy, so there will tend to be less likelihood of a dramatic, negative encounter. The day of the week is not a hard-and-fast rule. If you have to terminate someone immediately, you do not need to wait until Friday or any other day of the week. Schedule the time when a witness, usually a member of Human Resources, can be available. The witness is useful in the event the terminated employee makes a legal claim against the employer at a later date.
Prior to the interview, a manager may be tempted to begin revoking access to computers, gates, and doors. It is suggested that you reconsider this. While it may prevent the soon-to-be-terminated from deleting data or stealing equipment, it may also provoke an unintended reaction from the employee.
An Involuntary Termination Interview can be a highly stressful event for all parties. In many cases, the person being informed of their termination may get upset. In some cases, they may not have been aware that the termination was even a possibility. For the manager giving the news, this can also be a stressful event, you are after all taking away someone’s livelihood. You probably do not want to do the interview in an office. Offices set up a power-height dynamic that can add to the stress. Consider placing the interview in a private neutral room. If color is an option, consider using a room that is painted Lavender, as that color has been found to relax and calm the nerves. A general rule with these interviews is if the volume and energy of the employee goes up in the interview, the interviewer should try speaking more quietly and more slowly, as this may bring the upset employees energy level back down. Always have easy access to a phone in the event you need to call security. Be sure to document everything.
Informing The Employee
When giving the news, do not dance around the subject. Be forthright and tell the employee right at the beginning that they are being terminated. They may ask for reasons. Provide the answers to their questions that you are able to give. They may become defensive. Provide short, matter-of-fact answers. Do not apologize, as it will add to the employee’s feelings of unfairness in the termination. If this is an interview merged with an Exit Interview, this would then be the time to roll into providing information about COBRA and other benefits related issues. If the witness is an HR representative, they will be able to help a manager with these details. At the end of the interview, it is suggested to have them escorted to their desk to retrieve their things and then out the door. Depending on the company’s policy, the manager may box the employee’s things for them, and the employee can schedule to retrieve them from the front desk at a later date.
Just remember that it is another human being that is being terminated. Be firm, be honest, be compassionate.
And remember all of you Human Resources professionals: Be Human... Be a Resource... Be a Resource for Humans.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this post are by the author Trevor Stasik, and do not necessarily reflect the views of any employer or any other organization. Please note, this information is based on my understanding and is only to be used for informational and educational purposes. Do not take what I am writing as advice. Seek your own legal counsel and/or see a tax accountant before making business or personal decisions. The author of this post makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.