When you hire an employee, you do so with the idea that they’ll remain with your company for an extended period of time. Furthermore, it’s your hope that you never even have to think about terminating their employment.

Despite your best efforts, there is likely to come a time when you need to terminate an employee. When doing so, here are some mistakes to avoid:

  • Communicating electronically: The best way to terminate a person’s employment is face-to-face. Not only is it the courteous thing to do, but it’s also the easiest way to communicate your feelings and what comes next.
  • A long conversation: This conversation is uncomfortable for all parties involved, so keep it short and sweet. Know what you want to say, stick to the details and answer any basic questions the person may have.
  • A one-on-one conversation: It may sound like overkill, but you should have at least one witness to the conversation, which is typically an HR professional. This helps in many ways, including the avoidance of a “he said, she said” scenario in the future.
  • Leaving gray area: If you’re terminating the person, make sure it’s clear that you’ve made your final decision. You don’t want the person to walk away thinking that they’ve only received a warning or that there’s something they can do to save their job.
  • Ending the conversation without clear next steps: For example, you may give the person two weeks to finish out their job, if they have the desire to stick around. Or if you’d rather they leave right away, you may offer two weeks’ pay and request that they turn over all company property on the spot. There are many ways to approach the next steps, and you should have an internal process for doing so.

If you avoid making these mistakes, you’ll find it much easier to terminate an employee in the most courteous and safe manner possible.

Should you run into any issues along the way, such as an employee who files a lawsuit upon termination, collect applicable information and then take the steps necessary to protect your legal rights.