Waves rise and fall while the water level is constant. Terminations initially impact the business deeply. Over time though things calm and hopefully improve.
You may get frustrated when someone leaves but convert that energy to improving the experience for all those remaining.
This post will cover Voluntary Terminations, Exit Interview questions, and Involuntary Terminations.
𝗦𝗵𝗼𝘂𝗹𝗱 𝗜 𝗖𝗼𝘂𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿?
Often the person is determined, but not always. I’ve seen people quit because they were afraid to ask for what they really want.
Contact them immediately to ask: “Why are you leaving?” “What led you to choose that company?” “What do you hope to find there?”
If the company can make minor adjustments for the person to stay and to continue contributing to the team, that is awesome.
If the answers reveal there is no chance for staying, then begin the termination process.
Make sure your offboarding checklist is complete.
Consider how this will be communicated internally and externally. The manager and employee should build a transition plan including:
All the current responsibilities and how they will be covered
The employees, clients, and vendors affected
Processes to be documented and reviewed with the replacement
𝗪𝗵𝗲𝗻 𝗦𝗼𝗺𝗲𝗼𝗻𝗲 𝗟𝗲𝗮𝘃𝗲𝘀
Foster a smooth transition out. Be clear what is expected such as paying out unused vacation days, returning company property, etc.
Ask what they need. No matter the reason for leaving (unless for cause), help the person in transition.
Message the employees, clients, and vendors impacted. Be brief that the person is leaving and you wish them success in the next role.
Let them know as soon as possible while being respectful of the ex-employee’s privacy. I like letting the employee tell coworkers first and then quickly following up with them on behalf of the company.
𝗕𝘂𝗶𝗹𝗱 𝗮 𝗕𝗿𝗶𝗱𝗴𝗲
There is a relationship between the person and their environment such that some employees may be mediocre at your company right now but will be amazing in another job.
If you want the option of the employee possibly returning, plan to reach out every three months or so and ask how things are going.
I’ve seen former employees help refer other hires, potential partners, even new clients. A lot can change in our lives and at your company.
𝗖𝗼𝗻𝗱𝘂𝗰𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗘𝘅𝗶𝘁 𝗜𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿𝘃𝗶𝗲𝘄
The goal here is to learn.
The outgoing employee has thought a lot about what your company and other companies offer, so now they have a useful perspective.
Someone besides the manager and the founder should talk with the outgoing employee. This person should react neutrally to feedback.
I like to catch the employee near the end of their time with the company, but not necessarily the last day, since they may be eager to leave that day or hectic with lots of tasks trying to be helpful. Let’s dive into some ways to learn.
𝗘𝘅𝗶𝘁 𝗜𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿𝘃𝗶𝗲𝘄 𝗤𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀
· Why did you begin looking for a new job?
· What ultimately led you to accept the new position?
· Did you share your concerns with anyone prior to leaving?
· Did you feel that you were equipped to do your job well?
· How would you describe the culture of our company?
· What are one or two things you would change about the company?
· What do you think of the company benefits?
· If you could change anything about your job, what would that be?
· Did you have clear goals and objectives?
· Did you have the right incentive to do a fantastic job?
· How can we improve training and development programs?
· Management is often a key factor in a decision to leave. Were you satisfied with the way you were managed?
· What could have been done for you to remain employed here?
· Did you receive constructive feedback to help you improve your performance? If so, from whom?
· Would you consider coming back to work here in the future?
· If so, in what area or function?
· If so, what would need to change?
Most people want to be helpful. Even if the outgoing employee seems bitter, they are likely adding some value when giving perspective on the role, management, and the company.
In other words, focus on the value in the moment.
You may have a manger come to you and ask to fire someone. You need to pause here and be thoughtful.
A wrongful termination could be very distracting and costly, even leading to lawsuits if the employee feels unjustly removed.
Before terminating anyone, you should consult with both a human resources expert and an attorney. Both may ask for documentation of the performance and communication to the employee.
If possible, create a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) covering:
Goal – aligned with the business and culture
Objectives – clear and measurable
Action – what needs to be done to improve
Metrics – how do we measure success
Deadline – when are the actions expected
Managers will often tell me that the employee’s poor performance has been discussed and documented many times.
From my experience, there is usually a perception gap between the manager and the employee. A PIP effectively narrows that gap.
I’ve seen PIPs result in an employee remaining about one-fourth of the time. That is not to be discouraging. The PIP has many benefits.
When it does work, there can be an amazing transformation and the employee becomes incredibly valuable.
In other cases, the employee knows they cannot live up to expectations. This will make the transition easier for them.
For other employees, while details may be hidden, knowing there was a second chance alleviates their fears about termination.
In the final meeting you want to have:
Severance agreement (from a lawyer)
Explanation of next steps including payroll and benefits
List of items you need returned
Someone in IT ready to turn off access
Designated contact for questions after termination
Someone with you as a witness and to help with explanations
In the meeting, be clear that this is the person’s last day. This meeting is not to provide further explanation of the decision.
The meeting may be charged. You want to remain firm and respectful. You may offer to follow up in a few days and see if they need anything, since your words now will be hard to hear.
During the turbulence of termination, remember there will be calm again. The company will be in a new place soon.
Handle the transition respectfully and focus on the remaining employees to support and realign everyone if necessary.