When running a business, there are many things you will enjoy doing! Termination of an employee is most likely NOT one of those things. While it is not enjoyable, it is sometimes necessary.
In my last post, guest poster William Higgins wrote about the pain that can be caused with a poorly handled employee termination. William gave us his first 3 Keys in that post. The following continuation of this guest post from will give you the remaining 3 great tips on how to execute terminations with grace. William is Founder and Managing Director of Mindware, Inc., a performance development, consulting, and publishing organization.
What Should You Do?
As an employer, there are numerous valid reasons for termination of an employee’s business relationship, and you cannot stop the pain the person experiences. The pain is real. The experience hurts. It’s condescending and degrading to just ask them to trust God and know it will all work out for the best. While it’s true God will work things out, that kind of observation minimizes their feelings.
You will want to be sure you coordinate with your Human Resources department to be sure you are abiding by federal and state laws. While you cannot sidestep the pain of a termination, there are things you can do to terminate with dignity, value, and grace.
Keys 4-6 For Graceful Terminations
4. Be affirming.
A termination can feel very demeaning to the individual being laid off. It’s like what they were doing wasn’t of value, like their time invested with the organization was wasted. Whatever the reason the person is being terminated, there is always something in them that can be affirmed. At one point they contributed something of value to the organization. Find that and reflect back to them the value of that contribution. Or, identify what you see as strengths they have at the present, and tell them about those.
If they’re being terminated for performance reasons, be sure to let them know their performance is not what it once was, with examples to demonstrate your point, and that they still have something to contribute to another organization. 1 Corinthians 12 is a chapter devoted to this purpose; everyone in the body of Christ has a purpose and is of value. So it is in your organization. Mirror that back to the individual being laid off.
5. Be helpful.
Provide resources to help the person move on with their life. They may feel like it’s the end of life as they know it when they hear the news, but you need to let them know they still have skills and abilities to contribute elsewhere. Be sure they understand that God has not deserted them just because they are now unemployed. When Jethro spoke to Moses in Exodus 18, he didn’t just tell him he was not being as efficient as he could be, he also provided resources in the form of counsel on how to delegate some of the responsibility to others.
Be sure the individuals impacted understand what their severance package includes; continued medical and other benefits, lump sum, continued salary period, etc. Provide all details in writing so they can refer to them later after the shock wears off. Also review work completion expectations and plans to transition their projects.
The person you are terminating requires resources to both affirm their faith and provide practical assistance in moving forward. Your Road to Damascus: 6 Biblical Secrets for an Effective Job Search does just that. This book integrates biblical guidelines and strategies with cutting-edge techniques to give the reader a spiritual advantage in their search. Outplacement assistance with Christian career coaches is also available for individuals and groups based on this book.
6. Be open.
Survivors need to know what the future holds. Let them know why this action was necessary, and how it will enable the organization to move forward to achieving the goals that have been established. Let them know the resources you are providing those individuals laid-off, to help them see that you’re not dismissing people without caring for their future well-being.
When Christ was preparing for the crucifixion and to leave His disciples He let them know what was going to take place, the resources they were going to receive in the person of the Holy Spirit, and how they were to move forward. In John 14-17 we read how He helped them understand that, while things were not going to be the same with Him gone, they were going to move forward in power.
While terminations are sometimes necessary as economies shift, suppliers change, product lines are altered, and organizational objectives transition to reflect other changes, a termination does not have to be a demeaning, distasteful, and destructive experience. It can launch the impacted individual into a whole new adventure with God, but it needs to be handled sensitively, with grace, and with the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
As a leader you model the person of Christ in your organization. How would He handle a termination? Actually He did. Read how He handled Judas in Matthew 26:20-25 and you’ll see He practiced what we’ve been discussing.
You can too.
I would love to hear what you think about this approach to handling employee terminations.
What do you think was the best tip of the six?
What struggles have you had in termination of employees?
Did you learn something here that will help in the future?