Termination is a meeting with an employee for the purpose of letting him know in a clear, direct, specific, firm, detailed, and documented manner that he is no longer working with or for your company. When terminating an employee, you must be firm, fair, and direct. You cannot waffle, and you need to deal with objective criteria, facts, figures, and empirical data. These skills can be learned, and must be utilized in a termination interview.
It is never easy to let an employee go. You may have been meeting with the employee over a long period of time anticipating this moment, or it may be a sudden occurrence precipitated by illegal actions. Regardless of whether you planned for the meeting or whether it was unforeseen, you need to know what to do to make sure that you handle things properly.
There are always feelings associated with termination. At the very least it is regrettable admitting that your hopes and wishes for an employee didn’t turn out the way you had wanted. It can also be distressing, and even traumatic when you consider that an employee may not perceive their behavior in the exact same way you do. They may feel unfairly treated or set up to fail. In order for you to be successful in the termination process, you want to be able to put yourself in their situation, empathize with their circumstances, and be firm, fair, and direct.
It is important to note that unless a sudden and critical act happens, termination should be the end result of a process that has reached a conclusion that is the best solution for everyone involved. For instance, if the employee is chronically unhappy, is unable to do the work required, or has violated company policies or civil laws, then action must be taken.
The ideal outcome of an employee termination is have the person leave the organization having learned something positive from the experience; in addition you want them to bear no malice toward any person associated with the organization, including the overall organization itself.
When you meet with an employee for the purpose of termination, you want to:
1. Help the employee attain closure
2. Complete the relationship for yourself and the organization
3. Ensure that there will be no legal ramifications
4. Ensure that there will be no retaliation, retribution, or recrimination
Important questions to ask… Did you feel the organization provided you with sufficient training, opportunities for advancement? Do you have any suggestions for ways the organization or your department might enable the work environment to be more pleasant and productive?
The purpose of the exit interview is to:
1. Help management determine the reason behind voluntary termination
2. Minimize misunderstandings and resentments
3. Complete administration
An exit interview should not be confused with the meeting at which notice of termination is given. Exit interviews are conducted after the termination decision, whether voluntary or not and are intended to help management determine the actual reason behind a voluntary termination. Explanation should be provided to minimize misunderstandings and possible resentment caused by involuntary terminations. In addition, completion of compensation, administrative details and information regarding termination of benefits should be clear at this final meeting.
It is recommended that information from individual exit interview remain confidential. If an employee knows that their supervisor or manager will read the report they may be less willing to be open and candid. The meeting should be held in a private office to ensure the employee’s comments won’t be over heard. Document the exit interview and turn off mobile phones prior to meeting.
If the employee blames others for their circumstances, you can be sure that he/she does not take responsibility for their mistakes, for their job, or generally speaking, for their life. With this type of situation you want to use tactics that bypass the syndrome. You can say things like, “I know that you are not responsible for this situation, but it would help me greatly if you could possibly assume some responsibility for a positive change. What do you think of that?”
Remember: “Praise in public, provide feedback in private!”
When carried out consistently, exit interviews are a valuable tool as part of a company’s overall, pro-active human resource strategy. Interviews can provide helpful information for further improvement in the company’s overall performance.
The exit interview is an important tool for employers. When properly conducted, the interview provides the employer with the opportunity to:
- Discuss and clarify the reasons for termination
- Clarify pay and benefits issues
- Explain company policies relating to departing employees
- Ensure the return of keys, security cards, and company property
- Obtain information about a supervisor’s management skills
- Obtain information about how effectively a department operates
- Obtain feedback about employee’s opinions and attitudes about the company