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Common Sense Terminations

Updated: Apr 13, 2023

I'm not proud of it, but I have terminated over 100 employees during my career - including a plant closing. I've had the best of formal education - a BS in Business Admin, an MBA, and eventually an DBA. None prepared me for handling terminations. But let me share with you what experience has taught. Terminations don't have to be awful events. In fact, they can be ok and even positive if handled properly.

First off, I'm talking about layoffs and misfits in positions; not terminations for cause (theft, harassment, and such). When circumstances require it (financial loss or repeated poor performance), focus on the need to make a change - never that the person is not worthwhile. Importantly, and to the best of your ability, take the threat of financial hardship out of the picture with a generous severance payment. If you think that is frivolous, consider the cost of lawsuits, lost time by you and you HR personnel, and the damage that can be done on-line to your company's reputation. Remember that a termination does not necessarily mean the end of a relationship. You could be working for this employee in the future. Encourage them to seek fulfilling work and, if you can, help them with their job change. Perhaps you have contacts and are aware of an open position that is a much better fit. I once helped write my CFO's resume when promotions were no longer available within our company. Years later, we wound up together at new company.

There is no need to fear employee terminations. Just keep in mind the golden rule of treating others as you would wish to be treated.

For my trade journal article on this topic, contact me at for a free copy. - Ed Wright


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