How to Schedule a Termination Meeting

Within any company, the decision to terminate employees should be based on the needs of the organization and the position requirements. If an employee does not perform according to the organizational standard or the position is abolished, the company must consider dismissing the staff member. With this perspective, managers will need to cope with negative emotions, which affect the communication between the employer and employee being terminated. Moreover, careful attention should be paid to the preparation for the actual dismissal meeting. In addition, it is important that managers consider how the layoff decision can affect organizational health. Thus, the purpose of the following paper is to prepare an appropriate plan for conducting the termination meeting.

Coping with Negative Emotions

As an office manager of a consulting company, I was assigned to conduct the dismissal meeting of a full-time employee from a contract managing division, which recently demonstrated poor performance rates. Thus, it was decided that Mark James would be dismissed during the next week. Clearly, the dismissal meeting is rarely a pleasant event since the departing employee can become verbally abusive and lose control over his emotions (Harvard Business School Press, 2013). In such situations, it is appropriate to determine HR techniques and strategies, which suit the occasion most, in order to help the employee cope with negative emotions associated with an unexpected layoff.

First of all, as an employer I should consider time and place to avoid any unnecessary embarrassment if possible. Hence, I will dismiss Mark James in a face-to-face meeting eliminating negative emotions, which often arise when an employee is publicly terminated (Harvard Business School Press, 2013). If he refuses to meet, other options will be considered. For example, the dismissal meeting can be rescheduled to satisfy employee’s needs. The dismissal will be conducted in the private settings when other subordinates are not present. Employees are generally better prepared to deal with the distressing news early in the day, which may substantially decrease the likelihood of a negative reaction (Harvard Business School Press, 2013). Therefore, Mark will be terminated at the beginning of the working day.

Second, formal communication plays an important role in resolving such distressful and complicated issue as a termination meeting. The whole procedure has to remain highly formal despite any circumstances (Reed & Bogardus, 2015). It is worth admitting that focusing on the central messages of the dismissal meeting is viewed as an effective mechanism to cope with negative emotions of employees (Harvard Business School Press, 2013). Plain language and formal tone can help in this case. As an office manager, I should not express any feelings of pity for the employee. Besides, I will make it clear that all managers are in agreement, the decision is final and not open for further discussion or debate. Noteworthy, the termination meeting is the situation when two-sided discussions are no longer appropriate (Reed & Bogardus, 2015). The employee may become extremely emotional that will only exacerbate the problem and provoke a conflict in the workplace. Additionally, the reasons for the meeting will become vague and unclear if the employee discusses how the situation can be improved (Reed & Bogardus, 2015).

Based on human considerations, it is important to preserve employee’s dignity by avoiding personal evaluations and negative remarks while disclosing the reasons for the dismissal (Harvard Business School Press, 2013). Facial expressions and gestures should be thoroughly controlled not to express strong disapproval or resentment. A manager should briefly state specific reasons for the employee layoff in a neutral and professional manner. For example, I can begin the dismissal meeting by saying: “The reason why I called you to the boardroom is that I am going to make an announcement. Mark, all managers and I have come to the agreement that today will be your final day working for our firm. As you might know, our organization experiences a business slowdown, and the situation with the employment remains rather difficult during six consecutive months. The decision was not made without a close examination of your recent performance. As you remember, during the last meeting you received the warning of management’s disappointment. Since significant improvements has not occurred, our company does not have another option but to terminate the employment relationship.”

Conducting the Dismissal Meeting

Once the decision to terminate the employment has been made, the office manager should conduct the dismissal meeting. It must be carried out in an ethical manner to avoid expensive litigation. The actual dismissal meeting will last approximately 15 to 20 minutes aiming at providing a self-contained and concise statement of the decision to lay off the employee (Reed & Bogardus, 2015).

The first step of the dismissal meeting, which should be planned in advance, is careful documentation. The managers need to ensure that necessary documents are properly collected to justify their actions. An accurate record should be kept of each staff member including any relevant documentation that depicts employee’s performance (Harvard Business School Press, 2013). In case of a legal action, this documentation may be the only evidence to prove that the employee was dismissed for valid reasons.

The second step is to provide an adequate reason for the dismissal during the meeting (Reed & Bogardus, 2015). My explanation will be clear and comprehensive in accordance with all available evidence, which is the performance appraisal and formal warning. Furthermore, I will highlight the fact that the following procedure is consistent with the firm’s past practices under similar circumstances. Mark James will be also reminded of the continuing obligation to safeguard company’s trade secrets.

The third step is mentioning the total compensation package that the company offers to the dismissed employees (Harvard Business School Press, 2013). During the meeting, the employee will be provided with the final paycheck to alleviate the negative effects of the meeting. The next step is to explain the job reference policy (Reed & Bogardus, 2015). Namely, employee’s reference will include only the job title, salary history and the dates of employment. After advising the dismissed employee about the benefits and reference policy, the termination meeting should be brought to a concise conclusion. Since employee has certain company property, the employer should ensure that everything will be returned. The employee will be provided with the opportunity to collect his personal belongings. Moreover, the employee should be reminded to render the mail passwords to ensure protection of company’s system.

Benefits for the Dismissed Employee

Under the federal and state laws, our company has certain legal obligations to Mark James in relation to vested retirement benefits, unemployment insurance benefits and continuing health coverage. More specifically, the dismissed employee remains entitled to pension benefits vested under the terms of the contract (Harvard Business School Press, 2013). Managers will also notify Mark James of his eligibility for the unemployment insurance benefits. Ultimately, the terminated employee, his spouse and a dependent child will be offered the opportunity to receive health insurance benefits at company’s expense (Harvard Business School Press, 2013).

Apart from these benefits, severance payment should be included in the compensation package of the involuntarily separated employee as the matter of company’s policy. Therefore, Mark James will receive the one-week pay benefit paid on a monthly basis as long as he has three years of continuous service (Harvard Business School Press, 2013). The final payment check that compensates all working hours will be offered during the termination meeting.

Possible Impact of the Layoff on the Organization

It is clear that the decision about the dismissal should be taken with the consideration of its possible impact on organizational well-being. The layoff of one employee may seem minor, but often produces further effects on the organization since the personnel works together to attain the common business goal (Sobieralski & Nordstrom, 2012). Certainly, management may successfully substitute an unproductive organizational member with a rather motivated employee, who can significantly contribute to the performance improvement.

Though the dismissed employee was not fully committed to his job, his termination may result in a missing link in the team, which may influence the organization in several ways (Sobieralski & Nordstrom, 2012). It should be noted that the company initiates layoff in anticipation of reducing the costs spent on payrolls and benefits. However, company’s savings can be drastically minimized as a result of incurring costs associated with the current layoff (Sobieralski & Nordstrom, 2012). Consulting company is obliged to issue a severance pay to Mark James while implementing overtime wages to the remaining staff members and using placement services for temporary assistance (Sobieralski & Nordstrom, 2012). Hence, the firm is likely to experience intense difficulties if the vacancy will not fill for an extended period.

Clearly, the terminated employee suffers the most emotional distress, but the remaining staff is emotionally affected as well (Sobieralski & Nordstrom, 2012). Part of the reason for distress is that employees will need to assume extra responsibilities and build new working relationships. Furthermore, watching the colleagues involuntarily dismissed could cause additional stress within the team environment and motivating an employee to seek new job opportunities and consider other job offers. Layoffs may also disappoint the employees who then opt to leave the organization. The problem can escalate if the departing employee needs to stay and work until the date of termination of his employment contract (Sobieralski & Nordstrom, 2012). Thus, emotional distress may eventually result in the increased turnover, which adversely affects company’s performance and image.

Consulting company may also suffer in terms of customer retention. Every customer is a valuable asset to the organization and managers have to develop effective strategies to retain each of them. As the firm lays off its employees, it implicitly announces that it experiences some sort of crisis (Sobieralski & Nordstrom, 2012). Fewer employees may not be able to cope with extra tasks and responsibilities, which causes the delay in delivering services disappointing the customers and further decreasing their loyalty to the company.

Conclusion

It is important to plan the dismissal meetings, which are often increasingly challenging for both an employer and a separated employee. However, a properly handled meeting protects employee’s feelings and eliminates hostilities. The focus on preserving employee’s dignity is necessary based on ethical consideration and legal requirements. Thus, the meeting should be prepared very carefully to avoid potential lawsuits and negative consequences for the entire company. The risk of legal jeopardy can be mitigated by a thorough analysis of the mechanics of the dismissal meeting. The compensation plan should be prepared to satisfy the two-sided demands. The impact of a layoff should be another important consideration of an office manager. An employer should be fully aware of the fact that even minor changes in staff coordination, which is often deemed insignificant, can dramatically influence organizational performance.