6 Tips for Letting an Employee Go

“We’re sorry, but we’re letting you go.”

These words are never easy to say, but you can end the relationship smoothly and create a situation in which finding replacement staff members is easier. Whether you are letting a staff member go due to cuts or due to their individual performance, here are six ways to handle matters more effectively.

  1. Work with human resources from the beginning. Before you notify the employee, talk to the HR department. Human resources staff can help you ensure policies are followed, prepare to answer the exiting employee’s questions and double-check the process complies with applicable laws.
  2. Understand the legal (and illegal) reasons for firing. Focusing on performance can help you avoid missteps that could trigger a claim you let this employee go for illegal reasons, such as the person’s age, nationality or disability status. Talk to HR about the best way to ensure all managers understand how to build an evidence-based, legal case for letting an underperforming staff member go.
  3. Use a regular evaluation and feedback process to reduce surprise. One of the best ways to avoid “blindsiding” staff members is to create an evaluation and feedback process that helps staff understand how they are meeting benchmarks throughout the year. When a staff member needs to improve, clear directions on what to do and how their success will be judged can make it easier for them to understand why a failure to meet those standards resulted in a termination.
  4. Prevent leaks. Require and enforce confidentiality in the process until the manager can address the employee in person. Confidentiality helps staff stay focused on their jobs, reduces anxiety and prevents you from having to manage the social and emotional fallout that results from a staff member hearing “through the grapevine” that they’re about to be fired.
  5. Communicate with the rest of the team. Once the exiting staff member knows they’re being asked to leave, the manager should speak to the rest of the team. Work out how essential tasks will be covered and by whom. If a plan is in place to replace the exiting staff member, providing an overview can help remaining staff determine how best to manage their own responsibilities in the coming weeks.
  6. Include a phone call to your recruiter in the process. Your staffing partner can work confidentially “behind the scenes” to find someone who can fill the open position. Help your recruiting firm choose better candidates by describing the qualities you would like the new candidate to have.

At TERRA Staffing, our recruiters can help you connect with the best local talent in Portland, Seattle and Phoenix. Whether you need to add a position, find a qualified temporary staff member or replace an employee, contact us today to learn how we can improve your results.

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