• Randy Sklar

How To Turn An End To A Professional Relationship Into A Win-Win...


What’s the best way to fire someone? Is there one? Even in the most well-handled circumstances, firing an employee always leads to tension and hard feelings. Managers dodge awkward questions, morale takes a turn, and other employees start to fear for their own jobs. Seeking to improve the whole process, David Siegel, digital media executive and adjunct professor of management at Columbia University, offers a more humane and perhaps even more successful approach when it comes to firing: transparent separations.

“With transparent separations, you don’t blindside an employee or fire him outright,” Siegel explains in an article for the Harvard Book Review. “Instead, you encourage him to leave on his own by letting him know he is going to be let go soon and needs to start looking for a new job ASAP. […] I don’t recommend setting a strict departure deadline at first, but I do provide a time frame for clear progress on the job hunt. […] I also ask that the employee keep the arrangement confidential.”

Telling an employee they will be fired weeks in advance feels like it could backfire, but Siegel claims he’s actually been thanked by fired employees for this approach. This is because rather than being caught unaware and seeing their life thrown into uncertainty, fired employees feel supported by the company and have the opportunity to make the transition without fear. Here are the two biggest benefits of transparent separations.

Smoother Transition — Your company has the time to find a suitable replacement, and the employee has the benefit of looking for a new job while still employed. Of course, if an employee lets their work suffer during the transition, managers should treat this like a broken deal and accelerate the termination.

Improved Company Culture — Abrupt firings make employees nervous and turn managers into villains. With the transparent separation method, the departure is known in advance and the employee being let go is able to talk about their new job rather than let rumors fly about an unexpected termination.

Transparent separation isn’t the best option for every situation. For example, if a manager’s bad behavior is creating a toxic work environment for employees, that manager needs to go right away. However, when the reason for the departure is performance-based, taking the time to practice this method can help create a more positive experience at your company.

Thanks for reading,

Randy Sklar, CEO

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