Ending someone’s employment is a serious moment in their life, and should be addressed thoughtfully and with sensitivity.  Most people assign a large amount of their identity to their job.

How you go about dismissing an employee depends on your goals.  Usually, your goal is to maintain a respectful and civil relationship, resolve any issues of potential dispute, and effect a calm exit.  The best way to achieve that goal is to ensure the employee feels that they have some control. Giving people a choice in how they receive a severance payment, whether or not to go to an outplacement service, or how their exit is messaged within the company makes people feel more like they are in control and less likely to emotionally lash out.

It is also important to make the employee feel safe.  If appropriate in the circumstances, you can tell the employee that the termination is not related to performance, knowledge or skill. You can also consider whether you are truthfully able to provide a positive reference.  Having a positive reference letter already in the termination documents can assist the employee in their job search efforts and in messaging the termination of their employment with friends and family.


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