If you think that firing an employee is as simple as channeling Donald Trump circa 2004, you’re in for a rude awakening.
In reality, getting rid of someone on your team is uncomfortable for everyone involved. For advice on how to navigate this über-awkward situation, we turned to Rosalinda Oropeza Randall, an etiquette and civility expert and the author of “Don’t Burp in the Boardroom.”
Here’s the general script template she shared:
“We recognise that you were instrumental in assisting your department with [whatever project]. However, for the last year we’ve attempted to work with you on [whatever skill]. We’ve decided to terminate your employment effective [whenever].”
Randall said the most important thing to do (before you use the template above) is to consult your human resources and/or legal departments — especially if the person you’re firing has been a problem employee. They can tell you the specific language you’ll need to use.
“There are so many little loopholes and little words you want to avoid using,” she cautioned.
For example, if there’s a chance that the person being fired might take legal action against the company, your HR department might advise you not to start off with something positive, since they can use that against you. Otherwise, Randall said you can probably acknowledge one positive contribution they made.
That’s especially true if you’re laying someone off or if an entire department has been dissolved and you’re not firing someone for poor performance.
But then you’ll want to get the point. “People don’t want you to dilly dally … when they know that they’re inevitably going to be fired,” Randall said.
In closing, you should end on a positive note: “We wish you well and thank you for your service to the company.”
You’ll also want to find out other details, like whether you need other people present when you’re delivering the news and whether someone needs to escort the employee back to their office and then off the premises.
Yes, it’s a cringe-worthy situation. But it doesn’t make you a monster. Life will go on for both of you.
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