Firing someone is never pleasant. But when it has to be done, the process should follow certain basic criteria to minimize the pain. Marla Bradley, chief executive of the Los Angeles-based consulting firm Bradley/Lambert Inc., said there are two possible scenarios involved in termination, and she explained how each should be handled.
“There are two situations where this can happen. One can be termination for cause where the employee is not performing well or has violated company rules, committed fraud, etc. The other is when the company itself is not doing well and is downsizing.
“If an employee is being terminated for cause, it should not come as a surprise to them. They would have received verbal feedback. Adequate coaching and any performance issues would have been documented in numerous meetings prior to this step.
“The supervisor has to make sure that all the company policies are applied during the procedure. These policies should hold good for all employees.
HR and legal representatives should be present during the meeting, in addition to the supervisor.
“It is very important to take care of the legal considerations during this process. Any business has to be aware of this. In case of fraud or violation of conduct, the employer has to make sure that the facts are nailed down by way of investigation. These can become legal issues.
“The employee would typically be asked to leave the company on that day.
Make sure that no company information is being taken out on CDs or floppies. The IT department should terminate the person’s access to the company’s computer system, e-mail and database of clients.
“In the event of downsizing, an employer should think about the employees who will remain in the company, besides those being let off. Make sure that every employee who is leaving knows that the layoff is being done because the business climate is bad and not because they did something bad.
“Also, do the layoffs all at once. Doing it in spurts will make the remaining employees uncomfortable and doubt their future. Also, how you deal with the layoffs tells the other employees how you will treat them.
“Employees should be told about severance packages and benefits and how long they are expected to stay and finish up. During this period, they should be provided with time to go for other job interviews and company facilities like e-mail and Xerox copying resumes. If the employer has hired a search firm to assist the employees with new job searches, they should be told about that, too.
“These are valuable workers being let off only because business is down. Be sensitive to this and allow time for the other employees to say goodbye to their friends.”
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