5 Steps to Take Before Terminating an Employee

5 Steps to Take Before Terminating an Employee

Terminating the employment of a team member is a challenging task that every employer is bound to face at some point. Many will agree that having the right, as well as the sound justification, to perform this action does not make it less difficult.

However, despite the discomfort you feel from even simply thinking about it, firing an employee is sometimes necessary. As the chief and leader of the company, it is your responsibility to ensure that the best interest of the organization and all those working in it are secure. With that said, termination is often the best direction for the company to take, so the whole organization can move forward towards success.

To help you accomplish the task, here are five steps you need to take before proceeding with an employee’s termination:

Step #1: Conduct a performance intervention

The most common reason why you need to let go of an employee is their observed poor performance at work. This means that before you consider hiring someone else to do the job, you must first conduct a performance improvement plan which states the problem areas and provide specific goals for the employee in question.

Developing an improvement program specifically tailored to the employee gives them a chance to correct the problem. It also allows you to evaluate whether there is still an opportunity for them to offer something significant to the company.

These interventions may come in the form of verbal coaching, especially if the problem is related to the employee’s behavior, such as lack of communication, tardiness, absenteeism, and others.

Step #2: Send written counseling

If you find yourself dissatisfied with how the employee performed even after the intervention, it is time to send them written counseling. While this is somewhat similar to the first step, written counseling shows the employee how seriously you are considering hiring someone else to do their job. As such, it should include details of what needs to be improved and how it can be accomplished.

The key difference between written counseling and verbal coaching is that the former serves as official documentation of the issue. It can be used as evidence that can be referred to during termination in the event that there is no immediate, noticeable, and sustained improvement since the employee in question received counseling.

If you’re still unsure how to go about in doing this, it’s best to seek guidance from a legal expert who specializes in labor matters.

Step #3: Let the appropriate departments know

If you have made up your mind to let the person go because of the lack of sufficient improvement on their part, even after you provided verbal and written notice and help, it is time to inform two important departments: human resources or HR and legal.

Consulting these teams will help you make sure that the reasons why you’re firing an employee are justifiable grounds based on the company’s policy. Both departments should then offer you help with the best ways to proceed with the termination. HR should also be able to calculate his or her final compensation.

Step #4: Schedule a face-to-face meeting with the employee

The next thing you need to take care of is the face-to-face meeting with the employee you intend to fire. The meeting should be set on a date that is as close to the time the invitation was sent as possible. It is also ideal not to lay down the details of what would be discussed until the meeting itself has commenced.

Step #5: Lay it down swiftly, but explain your reasons

During the meeting, make sure to be straightforward with how you tell the person that they are losing their job. Let it sink in before continuing.

Explain how you came up with the decision. Make sure to give them an overview of their performance before and after the verbal and written counseling. Let them know that there were steps taken that were indications that this was going to happen.

A Final Word

Aside from abiding by employment policies as stated in the work contract and dictated by state laws, another important thing employers should never forget when firing an employee is to show compassion. Remember that you are letting a person know that they will no longer have a job, which is often difficult to take in. Let the person know that the task needs to be done for the good of the company and for their own best interest as well.


Sharon Danso-Missah is the Head of Marketing at Al Tamimi & Company, the largest law firm in the Middle East, with 17 offices across nine countries. Established in 1989, they are a full-service commercial firm combining knowledge, experience, and expertise to ensure all clients have access to the best legal solutions that are commercially sound and cost-effective.


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