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Making Terminations Easier

Terminating an employee is never an easy task, though it is sometimes the best course of action for an employer to take. Prior to following through with an employee termination, it is important to plan appropriately.


One key question that the manager should ask him or herself is whether or not the employee will be surprised. With the exception of extreme circumstances, immediate terminations are rare and typically only happen when an egregious violation has occurred. The decision to terminate usually comes at the end of a process that includes evaluation, lack of performance and lots of communication. Whether focused on performance or behavior, the manager should communicate clear expectations to the employee and ensure he or she understands the message. Candid feedback should also be provided so the employee clearly understands where deficiencies exist and where improvements are or are not being made. If a manager has done his or her job effectively, an employee should not be completely shocked upon termination.


Once the decision to terminate is made, these steps help ensure the process goes smoothly.


Prior to the termination meeting:

  • Prepare an agenda with the important talking points to help keep the discussion on track.
  • Time the meeting carefully – For respect and privacy, limit visibility of the meeting.
  • Hold the discussion in private – Ensure that others will not overhear the conversation. Schedule a conference room in advance, if necessary.
  • Whenever possible, ask an HR representative or another manager to attend. If you feel the employee may react aggressively or violently, plan for this possibility by including Company security or other resources to help mitigate the risk.


During the termination meeting:

  • Remain calm and clearly state the reason for termination.
  • Stick to the facts – Avoid personal references or accusations.
  • Be prepared for the employee’s reaction –Take time to consider what response you may have to the potential reactions from the employee.
  • Discuss all issues that need to be “closed” out such as benefits, final paycheck, and getting Company property returned (badge, keys, laptop, phone, etc.)
  • In the absence of a specific risk of data theft or breach of intellectual property, EctoHR recommends planning to allow the employee to temporarily keep the employer provided cell phone if it is the employee’s only phone. While there are risks associated with doing so, terminating an employee and leaving him or her without a phone, without any prior notice, is not typically advisable.
  • Walk the employee to the exit of the building, or request that company security do so, if available.


After the termination meeting:

  • Designate one specific person from the Company to act as the primary point of contact for the terminated employee going forward. This avoids communication triangulation and minimizes follow up distractions.
  • Plan to communicate the news to the rest of the staff. Respect confidentiality and do not share pertinent details of the termination, but do develop a communication plan so that people understand any potential impact to them moving forward.


Many clients rely on EctoHR to provide needed support throughout the termination process.   Whether creating a new process or working your way through a specific situation, EctoHR can help! Please contact us at 810.534.0170 or

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