Terminating an Employee: Is That a Good Thing? (Part 2 of 2)

Posted by Matt Berringer on November 1, 2011

By Dr. Ramiro Zuniga

In part one of this blog, I discussed whom to terminate and whom not to terminate. In part 2, I will focus on whom to consult and when.

Whom should you consult?
Be sure to start consulting with the Human Resources Department as soon as you see a continued pattern. For example, if you have an employee exhibiting serious negative behavior even after repeated requests for corrected behavior.

I would further suggest that you consult the same Human Resources administrator on subsequent visits. Doing so creates an opportunity for the administrator to develop and maintain a more complete understanding about the situation at hand. This is important in that this conversation may continue over an extended period.

What do you gain by consulting?
Consulting with Human Resources will:

  • Help ensure that your decision is not based on your being angry or your own emotions.
  • Allow another administrator to evaluate the situation at hand.
  • Provide guidance on documenting events in accordance to the employment law and school district policy
  • Keep you focused on procedures, instead of the frustrations associated with this activity
  • Provide guidance on future discussions with the employee in question

Discussion topics when consulting?
Don’t be afraid to ask whether or not your decision to move toward termination is appropriate, given the sequence of events.

Ask the person that you are consulting whether he or she has handled a similar case.

Ask whether or not you are acting too hastily.

Absolutely ask for suggestions or advice.

General Caveats
Never tell an employee that he or she is fired until the time is right. In most cases, the employee will be called in by Human Resources and notified. If however, Human Resources requires that you carry out the notification, keep the meeting brief and to the point. Do not allow for the employee to argue or to plead his or her case. Be firm, let the employee know that the decision is final. In either case, make sure that the termination is effective immediately.

Keep in mind that each termination will unfold in a unique fashion. Most employees will accept your decision, perhaps make a comment or two, and leave your office immediately thereafter. Be prepared, however, for emotional reactions.

If terminations are a result of budget cuts, let your staff know as much as you know, as early as possible regarding the situation. This will be greatly appreciated by your staff. Try to secure other positions for individuals prior to their termination. Provide as much support as you can. Your staff deserves it.

Final Thoughts
Unfortunately, leadership does carry some burdens. Terminating an employee is such a burden. It is never easy, it is rarely quick. I would suggest that ensuring that you have done all you can to avoid termination will slightly ease your burden. But, make no mistake, terminations are never easy decisions.

Topics: staff development, human resources, K-12