This Japanese word is often mistaken as meaning “goodbye,” but it means much more than that. It implies a forever farewell.

Letting a Well-Liked Employee Go

One of the most difficult tasks of a leader is terminating an employee. It’s even more difficult when the employee is well-liked by their peers. Unless the cause for termination is egregious, like stealing or committing any other crime, take some time and prepare yourself and your company for the ensuing fallout.

First Consideration

Because the release of a well-liked worker will likely negatively resound throughout the company for a long time, consider if that’s the only option. If the reason for the termination is based on a soured and irreconcilable relationship between the employee and their supervisor, consider if the employee would fit into another department. Would that department supervisor be willing to give the employee a chance?

Do You Respond and If So, How?

How you respond will affect the overall attitude among other employees who know and like the person terminated. While you probably can’t publicly get into details of why the employee was discharged, there are some other things you can and should prepare for beforehand.

In meeting with the employee who will be terminated, be sure that at least one other person is present. It’s always good to have HR there as well. Know what your termination options are.

If your employment agreement with the employee doesn’t require you to offer severance pay, but it is an available option, considering and offering this may allow your employee to leave without the accompanying appearance of being terminated while still receiving several week’s pay and benefits. It would still allow the employee to apply for unemployment checks but probably after a longer waiting period.

Yet another option is to consider if this position is still needed. If your company can move forward successfully without it, eliminating the position is an option that is a bit more understandable that terminating someone because their work became unsatisfactory.

In either case, be prepared to meet with employees who may likely be upset over the termination of their well-liked coworker. Many will be concerned about the possibility of being in a similar situation. Do whatever you can within legal reasons to assuage these fears so as to not upset operations.

Another Possibility

A somewhat similar scenario could occur with a popular employee who decides to leave voluntarily. Whether it’s for a higher position, more pay, disenchantment or another reason, seriously consider conducting your own interview, even if your company has a formal program for HR to do an exit interview.

It’s important to learn as much as possible about why a person who seemed so well-liked and happy at work decided to leave What could you learn to prevent the same occurrence with another good and popular employee in the future?

Consider hosting a farewell coffee or party with the consent of the employee. Lead the way in doing this and recruit some of the employee’s coworkers to plan it. Maintaining goodwill among remaining employees and signaling to them that there’s no resentment about their friend leaving the company will uphold your leadership role with everyone.

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