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10/7/2008
10:33 AM
Jim Manico
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How To Fire Valued Employees

More than 1.2 million people lost their jobs during the first eight months of this year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That's a lot of difficult conversations, especially when the people being let go are fantastic employees whose performances have nothing to do with their pink slips.

More than 1.2 million people lost their jobs during the first eight months of this year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That's a lot of difficult conversations, especially when the people being let go are fantastic employees whose performances have nothing to do with their pink slips.Indeed, having to terminate employees who are doing a great job is one of the toughest challenges that any leader will face, says Harvard Business blogger Marshall Goldsmith. If you're the one doing the laying off, consider his five tips for doing so -- none of which will make "your discussion a pleasant experience," he acknowledges. "But I hope that these ideas help you manage a thorny situation in the best way you can."

1. Tell the truth. The employees who are being terminated may argue with you that "this isn't fair." They are right. Recognize that life is not always fair and that the "good guys" don't always win. Don't try to prove they are wrong and get into a counter-productive argument.

2. Be prepared for their anger. Even though their dismissal may not be your fault, you are still the visible representative of the company. They may verbally attack you. Don't take it personally. Realize that this is a normal human reaction to pain. Take the high road.

3. Don't sell out the company or your fellow co-workers. Even though the leaders of the company may have made some mistakes, they are still your co-workers. When we are attacked, it is very easy to deflect the anger to someone else. Try not to do this. Someday you may be the person who makes a mistake.

4. Help them any way that you can. Always go out of your way to be nice to people when times are tough. You never know, that person you are terminating today may end up becoming your customer, partner or even boss. Times change. People remember the way they were treated when they were hurt. It also shows you have class as a human being.

5. Keep in contact with them after they leave. Try to help them with networking. Call them on the phone. Send an e-mail. If they don't want to hear from you, they will let you know. If they appreciate the fact that you are reaching out to them, do it; if not, just let it go.

Have you had to lay off employees? How did you handle the conversations? How did they go? If you were the one laid off, how do you think the situation was handled?

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