There is no easy way to approach the subject of termination with an employee. Whether it is a layoff or even because of just cause, it is hard to have “the talk” and needs empathy and preparation to achieve with the least unpleasantness.
The whole process needs to be approached professionally. When you decide to lay off or let go of a person, the first step is to prepare the grounds for the termination.
First, have an initial chat with your Human Resource person to see that you are within the bounds of the law and complying with all the requirements.
Get the paperwork in order and arm yourself with all the information you will need.
See that the privacy of the matter is maintained. Once you set up the interview, do not beat around the bush. Be clear and concise and unambiguous.
If it is a layoff, then present the case as unavoidable and chart out the reasons, and why the company needed to take the step.
Share as much information as plausible and permissible. If it is a termination, then make it clear why. But do it with grace and empathy. Use encouraging words and show where the person fell short and what can be done in the future to avoid such pitfalls.
It can be about performance, not meeting the standards, some infringement against company policy, or more.
If it is performance paucity, make it clear that the employee had been given enough chances to improve and upskill. The company procedures were followed of warnings and hearing of the grievances on the other side etc.
Present the person with the documented process of shoddy work, chances to improve, warnings, etc.
Give a chance for the other person to put his point of view across, but make it clear that there is no going back on the decision. Even if the person gets emotional, frustrated, or angry, maintain decorum and show the utmost respect. It is understandable if the other person gets angry or frustrated.
As far as possible, extend a helping hand in giving a fair reference, severance pay if eligible, some leads, or possible openings that you are aware of.
See that all relevant questions regarding dues, insurance, leave accruements, bonus payments, etc. are answered.
Have an in-house councilor sit in on the meeting for some support for both sides. But make sure that there is always a third person sitting in on the meeting.
Things to keep in mind when terminating or thinking of letting go of a person is:
Do not delay the task. The more you delay taking a decision, the more difficult it will get.
Do not pass on the difficult interview to HR. However badly a team member performs, he or she needs a face-to-face interview with the manager or supervisor.
Do not waffle and go into the version of “it is not you, it is me”. This avoidance and bad management. Be direct and unambiguous.
In an ideal workplace, all your hires perform to their capacity, and there is never any need for terminating anyone. But in the real world, it is not possible, and people are routinely asked to leave. So be prepared to handle the difficult task.