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Friday, September 9, 2011

Best Practices for Letting Employees Go

Yahoo CEO, Carol Bartz, was recently fired over the phone by her fellow board member and Chairman. There’s been a backlash by reporters and career professionals quoting this situation as an example of how not to let employees go.

Right Management’s best practice recommendations include:

  1. Prepare the materials - Assemble written documentation if the termination is performance related. If the termination is due to job elimination, explain the rationale. Prepare all severance information in writing: notification letter, salary continuation/severance period; benefits; outplacement counseling, and other pertinent information.

  2. Prepare the message - Write out the script you will use during the meeting and the information you will convey to remaining employees. List two or three factual reasons for the termination. Keep everything short and to the point. Set the stage in general terms. Discuss overall business reason for the action.

  3. Plan for the Meeting - Determine the time and location of the meeting. Review and rehearse talking points. Be familiar with key components of separation package. Prepare to answer likely questions. Know what resources are available.

  4. Arrange the next steps - Schedule additional meetings with HR and the outplacement consultants. Review what should be done with personal belongings. Specify when the employee should say “good-bye” to his or her colleagues and leave the organization.

  5. Prepare yourself emotionally - Don’t assume personal responsibility for the termination. Remember, it is a business decision based on business needs. Prepare your approach and talk about your feelings with the human resource professionals and outplacement consultants.

  6. Anticipate employee reactions - There are typically reactions - shock, acceptance, relief and quiet. And sometimes there are unusual reactions - very angry, overly emotional, manipulative, out of control/violent. By acknowledging these various reactions and learning to recognize them, you will ensure that no matter what the reaction, you will be prepared to handle it in the best way.

  7. Communicate with remaining employees – Prepare a statement in advance. Managers should be visible and prepared to answer questions, keeping the focus on the business reasons for action and the plan for moving forward while respecting the dignity and privacy of the impacted employee(s).

The decision to let employees go is never an easy one to execute. Be prepared and minimize the stress and disruption to both you and the departing employee(s).

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