What NOT To Say When Firing

As talent managers, one of the most unpleasant tasks is probably firing employees. It’s a difficult job … but try to remember that getting fired is harder than doing the firing. A recent article from Inc.com author Jeff Haden lists the 10 worst things to say to an employee when you let them go.

The first thing to take into account is that it may be painful or difficult for you to fire one of your employees, but it’s almost guaranteed that the situation is more excruciating for that individual. In that light, be respectful and remember that emotional interactions could have legal repercussions for the organization. Treat the employee with respect and compassion and remember that your feelings in regards to the situation are now irrelevant. It’s also imperative to remember these following things that you should never say. Here are five of the 10 worst things to say:

1. “Look, this is really hard for me.” Who cares if it’s hard for you? The employee certainly doesn’t.

2. “We’ve decided we need to make a change.” You’re not an NBA team firing an unsuccessful coach. If you’ve done your job right, the employee already knows why he’s being fired.

3. “We will work out some of the details later.” For the employee, getting fired is both the end and the start of another process: Collecting personal items, returning company property, learning about benefits status, etc.

4. “You just aren’t cutting it compared to Mary.” Never compare the fired employee to someone else as justification. Employees should be fired because they fail to meet standards, targets, or behavioral expectations.

5. “Okay, let’s talk about that. Here’s why…” Most employees sit quietly, but a few will want to argue. Never let yourself be dragged into a back-and-forth discussion. Be professional, empathetic, and stick to the facts. Don’t feel the need to respond if an employee starts to vent. Just listen – that’s the least you can do. And the most you can do.

There are five other things that you should never utter when firing and employee, like “You’ve been a solid employee but we simply have to cut staffing.” If the company truly is downsizing, fine. If not, hiding behind this curtain does injustice to the employee. Don’t lie about the situation, as it could bring on future repercussions when the organization hires someone new to fill the job. There are four other things to never say during this process, please click here to read the remaining tips in the original article. Regardless of the situation, let the employee know that you are available to help them with any of their questions or concerns in regards to benefits, last paychecks or anything else. Above all else, be cordial and polite – – – this isn’t about how hard it is for you, it’s about how difficult it is for the employee being fired.

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