Working in HR comes with no shortage of upsides. It’s truly one of the most social jobs on the planet. There’s no shortage of areas of specialisation. And if you want it, it gives you the power to really make difference in the company that you go to every day.
Like all jobs however, there are some very real downsides too. And by far the biggest in HR is sitting down on front of somebody and letting them know that their employment is no longer required.
Most people eventually get used to it. But I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that the first time you do it, it can be equally nerve wracking on both sides of the table.
Nobody wants to make it harder than it has to be. There’s also the small matter of law suits. Want to completely destroy your budding HR career? Get your company sued.
The good news is that terminations aren’t particularly complicated. If anything, it’s all about what you don’t do.
Don’t Do it By Phone!
First off, I can’t believe I’m saying this but never fire anybody by phone or email. I would have thought that this was obvious but even in 2015, it still happens. It doesn’t matter if the person has been employed for days or years, you must have a termination meeting. Doing so mightn’t be much fun, but it shows that the other person is being respected enough for a face to face meeting.
Don’t Go in Unprepared
If the termination is sudden, you can expect plenty of questions. Assuming you’ve followed adequate disciplinary procedures, the reason for the termination should be obvious. You are, however, still likely to hear questions about benefits, health care, etc. Failing to know the answer to these questions will only add to an already volatile situation. Come prepared.
Don’t Beat Around the Bush
Think of terminating somebody as pulling off a band aid. The longer you draw it out, the worse it’s going to hurt. Now is not a time for pleasantries or praise. Make a list of everything that you need to say before hand and start talking as soon as they sit down. Trust me, it’s better for both parties involved.
Don’t Get Emotional
Nine times out of ten, terminations go off without a hitch. Both parties remain calm. Both parties walk away amicably. Sometimes however, the stress of being let go can really get to a person. Tears can be shed, sometimes so can screams. The second rule of letting somebody go is therefore to remain calm. It’s completely understandable for them to get upset. It’s never understandable for you to do so.
When something bad happens to somebody else, it’s human nature to want to apologise. Because of this it’s one of the most common mistakes made by first time terminators. Unfortunately apologies have a nasty habit of turning into lawsuits. Be respectful, be empathic, wish them well in the future but never apologise. If the termination is justified, neither you or your company, have anything to be sorry for.