Twitter has made the news in the last 24 hours. Twitter’s new CEO, Jack Dorsey, announced the company will lay off about 330 employees. Because it is news about Twitter, the users of Twitter couldn’t help but treat it as if it were apocalyptic. But here’s the odd thing: Reporters have been trying to talk Twitter users off the ledge. It’s just eight percent of the workforce, they’re writing.

If you run a small business, laying off even one employee should be a terrible experience. If you ever get to the point of enjoying it, you should consider therapy.
There are lots of difficult emotions—not to mention potential legal issues—when you have to let even one employee go. While there isn’t just one “right” way to let someone go, there are some wrong ways. Avoid these mistakes if you have to lay off an employee.

1. Don’t use technology (especially Twitter).

Although it can seem easier (and less painful for you) to let someone go over the phone or via email, this is big mistake for employers to make. Don’t. In order for the employee to feel they are treated with respect—and lessen the likelihood that they’ll lash out at the company—all terminations should be conducted in a face-to-face setting unless absolutely impossible.

2. Don’t lay off someone without any warning. 

Some companies have an official method for performance review. If you don’t (and you should), make it a point to discuss poor performance with any mediocre employees in a formal setting. This not only gives them an opportunity to reverse the negative impact they’re having on the company (and eliminate the need to terminate their employment), but it can also prevent legal conflicts if the employee has been warned about the consequences of poor performance.

3. Leave off the negative comments. 

If you’ve warned an employee about poor work performance, you don’t need to go into great detail about the issues during the termination meeting. If the employee asks why he or she is being let go, respond with a brief reminder of the performance review, but make sure to end the meeting on a more positive note with words of encouragement. As long as employees feel respected throughout the process, they’re less likely to sue for wrongful termination (or at least won’t talk bad about your company to potential future employees or clients).

4. Don’t seek pity from the person you are laying off. 

While it certainly is difficult to fire someone, it’s always much more difficult for the person being fired. Don’t belittle them or make them feel disrespected by saying things like it’s hard for you, too.

5. Don’t involve a security guard.

According to a study published in the Journal of Business Ethics, having a third party in the room during the termination increased an employee’s feelings of being disrespected. And if the third person was a security guard, the employee felt much angrier. When the former employee was forced to exit the building with a security guard, either discreetly or publicly, these feelings of anger only increased—and with them the likelihood of pursuing legal action or complaining to other people about the process. Unless the employee’s behavior was absolutely egregious, they deserve to be treated respectfully during this difficult time.

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