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Termination Checklist

February 18, 1999
Related Topics: Termination, Featured Article
Yvonne Mug, manager of human resources at diagnostic X-ray manufacturer Summit Industries, hasn't seen a termination suit in 25 years in HR. That's because she believes in "departure with dignity." It's so important to her that if the president of her 100-employee Chicago company didn't support that, she says, "I'd find another job in a heartbeat." Here is the termination checklist she developed.

Spell out the reason for the termination.
She hands the employee a paper that reads: 'resigned' and 'dismissed.' She circles dismissed and writes the reason for the termination.

Encourage employee to talk.
She helps them vent feelings, verbalize the reason for the termination, and take responsibility for it. "I try to imagine the employee's family is there" and the talk is helping the worker explain what happened to them, so "they can look at the business at hand and move forward."

Thoroughly review benefits, COBRA, etc.
After getting employee's signature on paperwork, she gives them copies of everything.

Emphasize the positive.
"I keep the mood comfortable and light," she says. "I can't change what happened, [but] I can take as long as it takes to make this person feel okay."

Answer all questions.
"I try to get rid of some fears, including unexpressed ones like, 'What will you say in a reference?'"

Write reference letter.
"Everyone has some strengths. Were they extremely punctual? Did they have perfect attendance?" Mug and the employee agree on the letter, so the employee has no future surprises.

Part as friends.
"I don't expect anyone to be happy, but they can be at peace, with the sense that I respect them. I treat a terminated employee the same way I treat one of my existing employees." The result? Business as usual—which is invaluable. "Remember, when you let someone go, they have buddies at the company who will be talking and watching your actions. You don't want the terminated employee to give us a bad rap."

Source: Yvonne Mug, manager of human resources at diagnostic X-ray manufacturer Summit Industries. Reprinted with permission from Human Resource Management News, 1998. All Rights Reserved. Kennedy Information, LLC/Human Resource Management News. 800/531-0007.

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