The Firing Line

It may be true that the economy is booming and qualified labor is in short supply, but that doesn't mean managers aren't still occasionally faced with the grim task of firing employees. It's never easy, but now there's help: The Employment Roundtable, a New York City-based nonprofit consortium of business, government and think tank leaders, recently released "Letting People Go with Dignity," a report on handling employment terminations.

Today's hot labor market makes it more imperative than ever that terminations be handled in a sensitive manner, says Richard Bayer, cochair of the Employment Roundtable and COO of The Five O'Clock Club, a New York City career counseling organization that started the roundtable in December 1998. "You need to be able to recruit and retain good people, and your ability to do that is facilitated by your reputation in the marketplace," he says. When disgruntled ex-employees complain about unfair treatment, that reputation can suffer. "You also have to be concerned with the morale of the remaining workforce," Bayer adds.

The roundtable offers a number of tips for the manager doing the firing, including the following:

* Explain to the employee what went wrong. That information can make it easier for him or her to move on and leave the job behind.

* Make sure to explain how the employee's departure will be publicized.

* Let the employee return to his or her desk and share reactions with friends and staff. This allows him or her to gather some dignity and normalcy and to feel empowered, not railroaded.

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This story, "The Firing Line" was originally published by CIO.

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