Terminating an employee is never an enjoyable experience. There are a lot of emotions involved for everyone. No matter what the employee has done, you know that the news you are about to deliver will be life-changing. But, without a doubt, every small business leader who has employees will have to terminate at one time or another.

As uncomfortable as terminations can be, there are many things you can do to make it go smooth as possible. Here are five best practices:

  1. Follow a progressive discipline program: Employees should never be surprised by a termination meeting. Documented verbal and written warnings with clear benchmarks for continued employment should come before most types of terminations.
  2. Make sure the right people are there: It is the best case for an employee’s direct supervisor to be part of the termination meeting. It makes no sense for someone who hasn’t even worked closely with the employee to terminate them. These meetings should be as discreet as possible. Terminations should never happen in front of peers.
  3. Be honest: It doesn’t do the employee any good to not provide a reason for termination. In fact, without giving a reason, your company could be opening themselves up to potential liability. Make sure to focus on performance rather than behaviors or personality.
  4. Keep termination meetings short: While you should be honest, you should not come prepared with a laundry list of things the employee did wrong during their employment. Only share the final reason for termination. Be clear that the decision is final and here is no room for debate.
  5. Think about how you would want to be treated: The Golden Rule absolutely applies in termination meetings. Treat the terminated employee how you would hope to be treated.

Terminating employees with dignity isn’t just a best business practice. It is simply the right things to do. Having a plan in place before a termination occurs can make the situation more comfortable for everyone involved. If you have questions about terminations or any other personnel situations, contact our People Strategy team at humanresources@helpside.com or (801) 443-1090.