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How to Terminate an Employee*

Terminating an employee is never easy. Whether it’s the first time or the 50th, every case is difficult, emotional and stressful. But no matter how difficult it is for you, it’s obviously more difficult for the individual losing their job. Loss of employment is high on the list of tragedies in a person’s life that results in extremely high levels of stress. With stakes so high, it is critical – no, it’s an obligation – that you ensure the termination be done with a high degree of professionalism, and most importantly, with as high a degree of compassion as possible.

If you follow the Progressive Management Process we discussed in our last newsletter, the employee should never be surprized when this day comes because they have had ample chance to correct their behaviour.  The discussions and signed documentation (should have) happened prior to this meeting. This entire process should take less than 5 minutes.

Here are a few steps to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible:


  1. Check into any legislation that may require termination pay and/or required information for a termination.
  2. Create your termination letter in advance, take time read and reread the letter to ensure accuracy.
  3. Practice your verbiage.
  4. Clear out the terminated employees work area (with an appropriate witness) prior to any of your employees beginning their work shift. Be sure to gather all their personal belongings.
  5. Select a private room for the termination that has easy access to a building exit. They should be able to exit the building with minimal access to other employees and patients.
  6. Set up three chairs in the room. One for the employee, one for the witness and one for the manager or supervisor that will be conducting the termination.
  7. The witness should be someone of authority. Never have two males terminate a female employee.

Inviting the employee to their termination meeting.

  1. Have your witness meet the employee at the front door and walk with them to the selected meeting room.
  2. The employee should not be informed of what the meeting is about. If they ask the reply should be that “manager name” has all the details.

Conducting the termination meeting

  1. Seat the employee closest to the door and begin speaking as soon as they are seated. The manager should be facing both the employee and the witness.
  2. State slowly and clearly that you have decided to terminate your business relationship with them.
  3. Refer to the issues that have been discussed on several occasions through progressive management.
  4. Tell them what event specifically triggered the termination.
  5. Tell them they will be paid for today.
  6. Give them a letter with the details regarding their payroll and benefits etc.
  7. Stand and politely motion for the employee to exit the room.
  8. Escort them to the exit, preferably not past other employees or patients.
  9. Ensure they are ok to drive and offer a taxi chit if necessary.

There are many different situations that can arise in these meetings so be prepared to deal with things like the employee begging for their job back, crying, or yelling. Don’t be distracted from the task at hand. Remain calm and professional. If you have prepared properly in advance you should be able to stay on track. If they ask a bunch of questions refer them to read the letter at home and to call if they have any questions. Your goal is to do what you need to do and have them out of the office as quickly as possible while remaining professional and courteous.

Attendees of our Management 101 course will cover termination in depth and spend time role playing with both our facilitator and other attendees to ensure they have some degree of proficiency before they need to terminate someone for real.

Want to ensure your office manager knows exactly what to do when dealing with employees who are not performing to standards? Send them to our next Management 101 course on one of dates we have scheduled for 2017-2018.

We guarantee you won’t be disappointed. If you don’t see the value in sending your manager we will refund their registration fees. Contact Kodie today at (403) 984‑0114 or register online at


Dr Dave

*Note: we are not lawyers and this post should not be considered legal advice. Please consult with your lawyer for any specific issues that may pertain to your specific situation.


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