What Not to Say When Firing Someone

Posted by in Employee Management | Comments Off on What Not to Say When Firing Someone

Poor economic conditions make it more likely that businesses must terminate employees in order to survive. Firing employees is a hard things to do, butmanagers often say things during the process to make themselves feel better. Unfortunately, the comments can make the employees on the wrong side of the axe feel even worse.

While the comments below may not be evidence of an illegal motive, they may produce anger that results in the employee’s visiting a lawyer to determine whether a viable claim exists.

Here are 10 things you should never say when terminating an employee:

1. “This was a job elimination and had nothing to do with your performance.”
Do not say this when a discharge had everything to do with an employee’s performance. Your desire to protect an employee’s feelings or your own can later be used as evidence of pretext if the employee brings a discrimination claim.

2. “We have carried you for many years. It’s just not possible to continue to do so during these difficult times.”
Don’t trash the past. It is not only insulting to the employee, but it may be inconsistent with the employee’s prior evaluations. Remember, pretext alone wins cases.

3. “We have no choice but to terminate your employment.”
There are always other options. Why not tolerate mediocrity a little longer? Termination need not be the only viable option, so don’t suggest that it is.

4. “You have no one to blame but yourself. You just did not try hard enough.”
Hold employees accountable, but don’t impugn their integrity. When employees feel personally attacked, they fight back.

5. “This is just as hard for me as it is for you.”
There are few absolutes, but it is absolutely true that it always harder to be fired than to fire. Don’t ask an employee who is looking at unemployment to feel your pain.

6. “This is not the right job for you. When you get the right job, you will thank me.”
That may make you feel good, but it will make the discharged employee bristle. The “thank you” may come in the form of a complaint.

7. “I am sorry, but you are fired.”
You may mean: “I am sorry we have come to this situation.” The employee may hear that you think you are wrong. It’s not a good time to have a conversation about the meaning of “I am sorry.” Avoid apologies, even though you may genuinely feel badly.

8. “I know how you feel.”
Unless you have been fired recently, you don’t know how the person feels. If you have been fired recently, now is not the time to share that experience.

9. “You will always be a part of the corporate family.”
Trust me. This will make the fired employee think: “Oh, good. Will I still get the newsletter after I sue you?”

10. “Pardon the e-mail, but you are fired.”
This may not be unlawful, but it’s gutless. And it invites the angry employee to go for your gut.

Excerpted from “10 things not to say when firing an employee,” by Jonathan A. Segal, Business Week. Read the complete article at msnbc.com.

Password Reset
Please enter your e-mail address. You will receive a new password via e-mail.