Human fates, unpredictable emotions and effects on the working atmosphere: job separation talks are usually extremely unpleasant not only for the employees concerned but also for their superiors. If they are conducted unprofessionally, the company is also threatened with a loss of image, protracted disputes and legal disputes.
GS Consult gives 10 tips on how to professionally master the difficult situation of a separation.
#1 PROFESSIONAL PREPARATION FOR SEPARATION INTERVIEWS
In the run-up to the interview, work out a unified position with all the managers involved and be aware of your argumentation. Clarify with the HR department what offer you can make, for example, in terms of severance pay. It is also important to prepare professionally for unpleasant emotions in the interview and possible reactions.
#2 THE CORRECT INVITATION
Invite the person to the meeting in writing (if necessary, specify the location). The appointment should be made at relatively short notice to save the person concerned several sleepless nights. Obtain detailed information about the person from the HR department before setting the appointment. Otherwise, there is a risk that the separation interview may inadvertently fall on a birthday or anniversary.
#3 THE RIGHT PLACE
Select a suitable room for the conversation where discretion and quiet are guaranteed. It must be ensured that no telephone rings or other persons can enter abruptly. If several conversations take place one after the other, it should be avoided that employees meet each other by planning sufficient buffer time.
#4 THE TIME FRAME
Plan a generous time window of at least 45 minutes for the break-up talk, even if the delivery of the actual message is much faster. This way you have enough room for questions and emotions.
#5 BASIC EQUIPMENT ON THE TABLE
Offer a glass of water. Also have (out of sight!) a packet of tissues ready to hand if needed.
#6 "PAIN FIRST"
The separation message is conveyed clearly and unambiguously right at the beginning of the conversation. After a short greeting, say the decisive words in the first five sentences.
#7 MATCHING LANGUAGE
Use clear language with no room for interpretation. Do not give instructions or good advice during the separation talks. Avoid irritating words such as "you must", "you should" or "you must not". Do not allow any discussion on the reasons for the decision and refrain from comparisons with other employees. Instead, take responsibility for the decision as a leader.
#8 APPRECIATION IN TERMINATION INTERVIEWS
Regardless of the employee's performance or personal attitude towards him or her, respectful treatment during the separation interview is essential. Show your appreciation by taking your counterpart's emotions seriously and not repeatedly pointing out mistakes. Under no circumstances should you hurt the self-esteem of the already battered employee by making inappropriate statements.
After the interview, you as a manager should continue to be approachable for the person concerned and agree on concrete further steps. By formulating offers of support, you show that you are not indifferent to the personal fate. Under no circumstances, however, should illusions be made with regard to possible further employment.
#10 DEALING WITH THE REMAINING WORKFORCE
Do not neglect the remaining staff. Communicate all decisions promptly and directly. In this way, you can take away the fear of losing one's job from the rest of the team and prevent rumours from spreading. On the other hand, it is absolutely taboo to criticise or even expose a dismissed employee in front of the rest of the staff.