Employee reactions to being terminated can run the full range of human emotion. Here are a few tips for how to handle strong emotions.
Never argue with an employee to justify a termination decision. If you've taken appropriate action in reaching your decision, such as discussing the consequences of failing to meet performance criteria, the termination decision should not be a surprise to the employee. Be courteous, confident and firm.
If an employee asks what they can do to get the decision reversed, inform them that the decision is final.
Employees might respond that the termination will cause hardship to themselves and their families. In the case on an employee terminated for poor performance, you might point out that the employee had ample warning. In any case, you may refer to the benefits for which the employee is eligible.
If an employee cries, you should allow them ample time to recover, offer a tissue or glass of water, but do not apologize.
If an employee shouts or curses, you should state in a normal tone of voice that the meeting will not continue until they calm down. You should never respond in kind.
If a terminated employee makes a threat of a lawsuit, you should either not respond or make a neutral comment.
Call a witness if an employee makes a violent threat. If you suspect that the employee is about to become violent and cause harm to others or company property, call security or the police immediately.
Things to Consider
Preparing for a Termination
Outline of the Termination Process
Informing Other Employees