Managers often find themselves in the difficult situation of having to communicate an employee termination to the rest of their staff. Issues with specific employees are generally always private matters and sometimes legally-protected to remain confidential. On the other hand, lack of information leads to employees worrying about their job stability and extremely low morale. How do managers keep the lines of communication open with their staff and keep morale up during a time when an employee has been let go? Look to avoid these pitfalls:
- Not following your company’s disciplinary process – Most employees want to know there is a fair process for dealing with performance issues. If a manager has to let someone go due to performance, they should make sure they have consulted with their Human Resource staff to follow appropriate disciplinary actions that have allowed the employee in question to correct any deficiencies. The rest of your staff will not know the details of any disciplinary process, but they will want to be reassured these types of issues are handled appropriately.
- Sharing too much information – Many personnel issues are confidential in nature, especially if it concerns an employee’s job performance or personal information. Rather than share specifics, managers should keep it general and stick to the facts. Say something along the lines of “Mike’s last day with us was yesterday. We wish him the best, and here is the plan to replace him or handle the workload.” Do not bad-mouth the employee’s performance or personality. Most company employees build good relationships with each other and a manager who begins to bad-mouth an employee, even one recently terminated, will quickly lose the respect of their staff.
- Remaining silent – In the case of employee termination, nothing will upset employee morale more than a manager acting like it is “business as usual.” The smaller the business or department, the greater chance someone’s absence will go noticed or even disrupt the work place. When employees lack relevant information, they begin to make up their own stories, which can be even more disrupting! By acknowledging the disruption, even without specifics, a manager can mitigate any ongoing gossip and keep everyone on track.
- Not being available – Some employees get very upset when their coworkers leave, especially if terminated. During these times, they need reassurance in their own performance, and their job security. Managers should make every effort to make themselves available during these times. State you are available for any questions and be sure to not be absent more than usual. If appropriate, talk to any concerned employees privately about their own performance to reassure them.
If a manager can avoid these pitfalls, the termination of a low-performing employee should actually boost morale as long as those remaining feel as though the issue was resolved fairly and transparently.