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The Terminator

July 26, 2012

Managers are sometimes faced with the situation of having to be The Terminator, and I am not talking about the Arnold Schwarzenegger type.  The type of terminator I am thinking of is the one that says “You’re fired!”  and terminates employment. 


Going into the field of management, hopefully HR one day this is something I am concerned about.  Terminating someone’s job is not a positive thing, although it may be for the best, it is overall negative because: (1) as a manager I failed to hire someone that could take care of business in a professional or ethical manner and enabled them to succeed, and (2) my employee failed to succeed or did something irrefutable (some things are out of the boss’s hands).Currently I have never been in a management position where I have had the responsibility of firing someone.  There have been instances where I have though, “If I was your boss, you would be longtime gone.” However I am thankful I haven’t actually had to do that.

Being concerned about the thought of having to terminate someone one day, I decided to dig up a handbook my boss (an HR professional) gave me a while back when I told her I was interested in HR.  The handbook is called The 2012 Employment Law Tool Box put together by Mark Toth, Chief Legal Officer, ManpowerGroup NA.   I found this to be very helpful so I will summarize what the Employment Law Tool Box has to say.

Top Ten Termination Troubles:

  1. NOT firing someone who should be fired (I think we have all seen this)
  2. Not treating with dignity and respect
  3. Inadequate documentation
  4. Not getting a release
  5. Emotion instead of facts
  6. Ignoring past practice
  7. Bad post-termination communication
  8. Ignoring policies and contracts
  9. Poorly planned termination meeting
  10. Not telling real reasons

When trying to decide if terminating someone is the correct plan of action it is helpful to consider the following:

  • Was there reason able notice of consequences?
  • Rule: Related to efficient and safer operations and performance the company should reasonably expect?
  • Full, fair and timely investigation?
  • Sufficient evidence or proof?
  • Consistently applied to all?
  • Punishment fit the crime?

If after reviewing the decision to fire someone it is always helpful to plan for the termination meeting.  According to the handbook there are a few things managers should consider when planning the meeting.  First off the only people in the meeting should be the employee, manager, and HR.  It is important to leave out any other parties.  Second, the manager makes the decision and HR handles final pay, 401K and everything else.  This meeting should be in person and not in the manager’s office if possible.  Managers should also make an effort to terminate employees in a compassionate way mid-week (or Friday as a second choice), at the end of the day and should always AVOID holidays.

Here you have it – a few tips to being the ever-so-dreadful-terminator.


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