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How to Prepare for Terminating a Well-Liked Employee

Picture this. Eight years ago you hired an extremely talented, energetic

individual who quickly became a source of enthusiasm and expertise in

your workplace. A friend to everyone, this star employee excelled in

their work, acing every performance review; until recently.

About six months ago, this individual developed a snooty attitude with

management. Regular absences and tardiness soon followed. Projects

weren’t completed when they needed to be. Those that got done were

usually done poorly. You put the employee on a progressive discipline

plan in accordance with your policy, hoping to see a return to their

longtime stellar performance, but the employee showed no interest in

improving.

It may be time to terminate employment, but because this employee is so

well liked by their coworkers, you need to be prepared for the

ramifications of letting them go.

Prepare for the fallout of terminating the individual. The employee has

built up a lot of relationship capital. You should expect the employees

closest to this person to be very upset. Some of them might even want to

quit. You’ll need to meet with these individuals, listen to their

concerns, and try to help them adjust to the abrupt change.

While this employee isn’t in management, colleagues may go to them for

mentoring, guidance, and direction. You can expect some of these

colleagues to be a tad aimless following the termination. Keep your eyes

open for employees who look a little lost and offer to help them with

whatever they need.

Third, because this employee was once very good at their job—and may

still appear to be so—people in the office might fear that they’ll be

let go next. You can reassure them without violating confidentiality by

being openly appreciative of everyone’s contributions. Even small words

of encouragement said here and there can put people’s minds to rest.

If you suspect that the fallout of the termination could be very

disruptive to business operations, and you haven’t terminated others for

the same cause, you may want to consider alternatives to termination,

such as reassignment to a different manager.

But if you’ve decided termination is the best path forward, you’ll need

to prepare for the likely consequences. Don’t wait to see what happens.

Take proactive steps to ensure that upset employees are heard, aimless

employees are guided, and anxious employees are reassured. The road will

be rocky, but you can help smooth the way by addressing these issues

before they significantly disrupt your workflow.

Terminating a long-time employee can be a big change for any

organization, but dealing with the change in an effective and

responsible manner will lessen the impact of the decision. Have

questions about how to properly terminate an employee at your

organization? An entire year of HR Support Center

On-Demand

is cheaper than one hour of a typical attorney’s time. Ask

us

instead.

Additional Resources:

See our best

practices

for termination

Learn 5 tips for successful performance

counseling

Source: HR Support Center