6 Smart Tips for Severing Ties with Employees and What to Learn from Them

Maybe there’s a clash of personalities in your office. Perhaps someone in a position just isn’t panning out or their performance isn’t up to expectations.

Either way, there always comes the fateful day wen it’s time to let an employee go.

Bear in mind that not all employees on the way out are necessarily problem workers, though. Likewise, letting someone go isn’t as simple as just showing them to the door. Businesses should not only have a system for severing ties with their employees, but rethink how they approach firing for the sake of themselves and the people they’re letting go.

If you’ve struggled with firing employees yourself or otherwise want to make sure your own process is “by the book,” these six tips are for you.

Be Respectful

First and foremost, remember that nobody wants to lose their job. It doesn’t matter if you’re dealing with a toxic employee or someone who openly defied management. In short, firing an employee gracefully means giving them reasonable notice, speaking to them in a calm manner and providing clear expectations over what happens next.

Protect Yourself in the Process

At the same time, remember that each employee you let go is a potential security risk. Even if someone is leaving on good terms, you need to understand what any given employee knows in terms of security access and intellectual property before they make their exit.

That’s why conducting regular user access reviews and having airtight contacts with your employees is crucial toward making sure no information escapes your office. Make sure to remove any permissions from exiting employees and likewise limit their face-to-face communications with current employees as well.

Ideally, there should be a sort of “clean split” with departing workers with minimal time where they can interact with other employees or company property.

Cover Yourself Legally

On a related note, there are two important pieces of firing that can be overlooked from a legal perspective. That is, firing your employees in person and having a witness present (think: another higher-up or HR professional). This ultimately avoids any “he said, she said” situations and likewise signals respect for the employee in question.

Don’t Burn Bridges

There’s always an emphasis on workers burning bridges, but consider how management should do the same. After all, you never know when you might have let a worthwhile employee slip or otherwise need someone to come back.

You might not mind the idea of having bad blood with a former employee, but how you treat departing workers says something bigger about your character and reputation.

Consider an Exit Interview

In some situations, it might make sense to conduct an exit interview with an employee that’s on their way out. This is a good idea if their departure is amicable or you’d like to learn more about why they’re leaving in the first place.

During this process, you can expect unfiltered feedback from your workers that can help you figure out potential problems in your office that you otherwise may never hear about.

Rethink How You Hire

And on that note, every departing employee should allow you to reflect on the makeup of your current team.

Are you asking the right questions during interviews? Are you keeping tabs on work issues before they snowball out of control? Based on the problems and turmoil you’ve had with people who’ve left, you can better serve those who decide to stick by your side.

Dealing with employees on their way out can be an uncomfortable learning experience, but a necessary one nonetheless. By keeping these tips in mind, you can stay cool when it’s time to let someone go and ultimately build a better business for your current and future employees in the process.