Is there really a right way to ask an employee to quit? Even after 8 years in the HR profession, I can tell you, there isn’t. And it’s never easy; whether it’s the first employee you ask to go or the tenth; because you’re human and will never get pleasure in someone else’s misery.
So while it’s never going to be easy, here are some tips to make it gentler and to ease the pain involved.
Always do it in person: Never, ever ask someone to quit over the phone or by sending an e-mail. There have been instances where people have had their access cards deactivated or email accounts disabled without notice. That is one of the most brutal ways to communicate the decision to an employee.
Always have another company resource with you in the meeting: Depending on the reason for asking the employee to quit, involve an appropriate person in the meeting. If you are the manager for the person being asked to quit, involve a representative from the human resource department in the meeting. If you are from the human resource department, make sure you have the employee’s manager present. This helps to sort out any differences of opinion that the employee may have. For example, if the employee is being asked to quit due to performance issues, the manager will be in a better position to answer any questions, as compared to the HR representative.
Make sure you have all supporting data: Collect all the supporting data to justify the reason the employee is being asked to leave. For example, if it’s due to poor performance, keep the performance records, any warnings issued earlier etc. If the employee is being asked to leave due to integrity issues, such as misappropriate or theft, it’s all the more important to have evidence to show that there has been a violation.
Know the options being offered to the employee: Make sure you and the others in the meeting know and agree on all the options being offered to the employee. Ensure that you have answers to questions like “Can I serve my notice period or do I quit immediately?”, “Could I get a letter of recommendation from you?”, “Please allow me to continue coming to work till I find another job”. It may help to role play situations to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Provide support for the employee: Depending on the situation, provide support like counseling, access to recruitment consultants, maybe a phone call from time to time while he searches for another job.
Be strong: Whenever an employee is being asked to quit, there will be emotional situations where you may feel your resolve falter. You will need to be very strong and this can be achieved by being sure that the decision has been made after careful consideration and deliberation.
Above all, put yourself in the employee’s shoes. This will help you to communicate with sensitivity, and the empathy will automatically emerge.