The Do’s and Don’t’s of Termination Meetings

by | Aug 10, 2023 | Blog, Employee Relations

  • Amy Letke

    Amy Newbanks Letke, SPHR, GPHR, is the Founder of Integrity HR, Inc. Amy provides workplace solutions to improve performance, reduce liability and increase profits. She is passionate about helping other entrepreneurs and business owners achieve success. Contact us for more insights - 502-753-0970 or

Navigating the Delicate Process of Employee Termination Meetings

No one relishes the task of letting employees go.

The process of employee termination can evoke feelings similar to ending a personal relationship and is seldom easy.

However, the silver lining here is that these sessions can be conducted professionally and smoothly with the right approach.

To ensure a respectful process and to mitigate any risks of wrongful termination claims, follow the guidelines below:

Guidelines for Employee Termination Meetings

Before The Meeting

  1. Document Everything: Ensure that you’ve documented any performance issues to keep the process transparent. This not only gives clarity to the employee but also protects your organization.
  2. Consider Performance Improvement Plans: If the issue is lack of knowledge or training, consider guiding the employee with a performance improvement strategy before thinking of termination.
  3. Prepare Yourself: Be aware of the legal implications, and consider getting counsel from HR experts or lawyers to ascertain the risks of your termination decision. Plan the conversation in advance to ensure it’s concise and clear.
  4. Choose the Right Location: Pick a private and neutral place to maintain confidentiality and respect.
  5. Never Terminate Solo: Always have another company representative, like an HR professional, present.

During The Meeting

  1. Be Concise: Termination discussions should be succinct, typically no longer than 15 minutes.
  2. Avoid Delving Deep: Stick to the main points of the termination without recounting every single issue from the past.
  3. No Room for Debate: Make it clear that the decision is irrevocable and unanimously agreed upon.
  4. Maintain Professionalism: Always be courteous and respectful. Remember, many wrongful termination claims arise from hurt feelings rather than actual facts.
  5. Stay Calm: Stick to facts and avoid getting emotionally entangled.


  1. Handle Admin Tasks: Offer the final paycheck and clarify how their benefits will be impacted post-termination.
  2. Give Space: Allow the employee some time to process the information before they face their colleagues.
  3. Ensure a Smooth Exit: Have someone accompany the departing employee to collect their personal items and ensure all company property is returned. This also helps prevent any unplanned disruptions.
  4. Inform the Team: Let the team know of the employee’s departure but maintain discretion about the specifics of the termination.

And there you have it: A comprehensive guide to handling termination meetings in a dignified and professional manner. While it’s a task no one looks forward to, with these steps, you can ensure it’s carried out responsibly and empathetically. Remember, it’s about clarity and respect, not emojis.

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