New to HR: Terminating Your First Employee

HR is often known as the room you go into to get hired or fired and nothing in between. This belief is one of the major problems HR has with getting their employees to trust the department. Sadly, while this is not the only function HR holds, it is one that is necessary.

Terminating an employee is never easy, even if you didn’t like the employee personally, there is still much work that needs to be put into a termination to make sure it is justified. We talk to our managers constantly about documentation, documentation, documentation, and sometimes they still refuse to listen. Managers call the HR department upset and fed up with an action a team member has made, they want to fire the person immediately! As the HR department, you have to calm down that manager and get the story of why they’re ready to let go of this employee. One of the first questions asked should be, “Do you have any documentation?” This is not what your manager wants to hear and they may fight you on this, however, letting go of an employee in an emotional state can cost your company a lot of money.

Try to stay on task and have a termination checklist. As an HRNewbie, this helped me make sure I had all documentation needed before going to my boss.

  • Have the manager explain the situation to you and take notes
  • Talk to the employee that is having the problem. Is there a reason they keep calling out? Were they trained incorrectly?
  • If the manager has not been documenting, start today. Inform the employee of the procedure and make sure the manager is involved.
  • If there is documentation, how much and what does the last “Action To Be Taken” state?

It’s important that you allow your managers to fight their own battles, but be there for support. I work for a small business, some of our approaches may not be standard for larger corporations.

With that, also know that sometimes the employee is not performing well because they were not trained correctly. This is another reason why it is important for HR to get out of the office and find out what practices are really being followed. Just because we send out the information, does not mean the new hire is receiving it in the correct light.

Always proceed with caution when terminating an employee. While some may be nonchalant about losing a job, there will be times where strong enforcement/security might be needed to make sure everyone else on the property is also safe.

As an HRNewbie, it is important to practice sitting in front of an employee getting disciplinary action taken against them or terminated. Body language speaks greatly to team members and sending the wrong message can lead to more problems. Practice with your boss or another HRNewbie, and consult with the HR Pros that can help. It’s not the best part of the job, but being prepared will make it better for everyone involved.

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Jazmine Wilkes

Jazmine Wilkes

Proud millennial human resource leader focused on sharing HR insights, learnings and resources. Sharer of memes. Author of HRJazzy. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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