The Art of Management – 7 Tips for Successfully Handling Employee Terminations


Managing employees is an art form, something that must be acquired over time and must be practiced on a regular basis. Coaching others and leading a team can be a fulfilling experience but it carries with it a responsibility.

In business, there are times that coaching, and leading do not give the desired effects, and termination may be the only solution.

Most HR professionals and managers must deal with terminations from time to time, the key is learning how to manage these sensitive issues on a regular basis with empathy and understanding while remaining a respected leader.

There are many laws in place in order to protect employees from wrongful terminations, and more laws are added on what seems like a daily basis. It is up to the employer to ensure that their management team is aware of all of the laws that may affect their company. At CYB, we stay on top of all legal updates so our clients don’t have to.

A few questions to ask yourself as a manager,

1) When you are terminating an employee, are you comfortable with the process?

2) Do you ever feel as if there is something that could have been done or said that wasn’t?

3) Are you 100% confident that your managers handled each issue correctly in order to protect your company from frivolous lawsuits?

If your discipline and termination processes may need a little updating, it may be time for a review of your internal HR standard operating procedures, CYB would be glad to help!

Overall, it is very important to understand in depth the termination process and the risks associated with each termination. It is imperative to train each manager on how to discipline and terminate employees and it is just as important to make each manager aware of the potential damage that could occur from a wrongful termination.

The following are some general tips that have been beneficial to our clients when terminating employees: 

  1. Listen. Confirm the information. When someone comes to you about an employee’s misconduct, policy violations or performance problems, be sure to confirm the source of the information and verify the facts.
  2. Check the Handbook. If an employee is being disciplined for violating a company policy, make sure everyone involved knows what the actual policy says. CYB emphasizes updating the employee handbook on a regular basis in order to ensure that our Clients have a strong leg to stand on!  If the employee is unaware of the policy, and it is not in writing, there is a good chance that the employer is wading in murky water when discipline said employee. There must be documentation that the employee has received and reviewed the policy! Make sure that your employee handbook has an acknowledgement form and be sure that each employee signs it.
  3. Have a third-party present. It is always suggested by CYB that our Clients have either a CYB representative or another manager present when having any type of conversation with an employee. When a witness is present, the conversation can later be verified if there’s a disagreement.
  4. Have a plan. Before any meeting, decide who is going to speak and what will be said. Remember to ALWAYS hope for the best but expect and prepare for the worst, humans are notoriously unpredictable, and it is never known how any meeting will turn out.
  5. Prepare documents in advance. If the employee needs to sign anything regarding a disciplinary action, performance improvement plan or termination, be sure that everything is ready prior to the meeting.
  6. Let the employee talk. This shows fairness. An employee might say, “You’re right, this wasn’t the right job for me.” Or the employee may take that time to share his or her point of view. But be sure to keep control of the conversation and don’t let it go on too long.
  7. Don’t be stubborn. If something comes to light during a termination meeting that may have changed the decision if it had been known in advance, be prepared to suspend the employee (or take other temporary action) until a more thorough investigation can be completed.

This process is something that must be learned however proper training must be given beforehand in order to ensure that it is fair for all involved!

At CYB Human Resources, we help our clients develop a plan of action for dealing with the unfortunate circumstances that may arise from an incomplete termination process. The best way to handle these situations is to be prepared, ensure that the procedures are in place and followed and be sure that all staff is trained and ready for whatever will come their way!

Give us a call if you are interested in learning more about how CYB can help you Cover Your Bases when it comes to terminations!

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