Herzlich willkommen! Wir haben erkannt, dass Sie ggf. eine andere Sprache benötigen.

The fair dismissal - and two other ways of separation

08/12/2020 2020/12

The fair dismissal - and two other ways of separation

The year 2020 is coming to an end. For many companies it was the most difficult year since their foundation, as they had to deal with unpredictable external conditions for which no company had and could not have an action plan. Now the end of the year means for many companies to decide how to continue in 2021 and if all colleagues can stay on board. For those who are facing the difficult step of having to part with employees, we have summarized some tips.

First of all, the goal should always be that entrepreneurs and former employees can look each other in the eye later on and have a relaxed conversation during a chance - or planned - meeting. To achieve this, it is essential how to deal with employees in the separation process and how to say goodbye to them. If this process is characterized by fairness and appreciation, anger and negative consequences on both sides are minimized.


Organization is everything

Every company should have an orderly separation process anchored in its process landscape. In this way, each stakeholder knows where their own responsibilities lie and how these should be structured to ensure fair and empathetic treatment of employees. Through the process guidelines, the uncertainties about one's own behavior, among executives and HR managers, are mitigated, thus avoiding inconsiderate action in this unloved process.

The process guidelines should include early scheduling of meetings, preparing managers for the discussion situation, comprehensive clarification of all formalities and general conditions and consistent communication and information for all those involved in the process.

The person who receives the termination notice is burdened with a lot of changes and tasks in the coming period. Therefore, the company should take care of the organizational and administrative To Do's, such as job reference, vacation certificate, etc., quickly and reliably in order to avoid additional uncertainties and demands.

It should always be a matter of course that the separation runs smoothly in terms of labor law. In case of dismissals it makes sense to include legal advice in order to act correctly, in time and procedurally safe. An incorrectly pronounced termination leads to massive consequential costs, trouble with the person dismissed and uncertainty in the remaining team.

Customized prepared meetings 

Every break-up conversation has a significant socio-emotional aspect, which often challenges the manager conducting the conversation and makes him/her shy away from the situation. It is easier to conduct the conversation if you are aware that all break-up discussions ultimately have the same goal: the departure of a team member from the company. Awareness of the farewell and its background makes it easier to structure the conversation and allows for an individual design for each character. With a good preparation of the executive for the interview, he or she can lead the appointment in a structured and yet personal way. Good preparation provides security, which in turn prevents the executive from acting in a way that is not clear and straightforward due to his or her own emotionality, which is, however, a prerequisite for a fair and appreciative break-up discussion.  

Ultimately, it is above all practice that creates security in difficult conversational situations, and this cannot be denied in this topic either. Therefore, it can make sense to play through an appropriate conversation with an uninvolved person in advance. This provides practice and feedback on how this person felt informed and collected during the conversation.

Conduct the conversation consistently but appreciatively. You can achieve this by following the Harvard principle: Stay hard on the job, but always gentle on people. In this way you show attitude in the reasons for termination, but prove fairness and honesty in dealing with the person. In addition, it is also important in this discussion situation to broaden one's perspective and address future perspectives. Help in this moment with clarity and a positive view of the situation.

A dismissal also offers the chance for a new beginning
A termination is unpleasant for all parties involved
A termination is unpleasant for all parties involved

Support those affected 

In the following weeks after a quit you can best support the person with time and flexibility. Enable the person concerned to go to the authorities or to attend upcoming job interviews by giving him or her time off or making working hours more flexible to facilitate the organization of upcoming appointments.

Actively offer the terminated person to be available for future employers as a reference and contact person in the application process.

In addition, coaching by a professional coach or by the manager can make it possible to see the upcoming change as an opportunity for professional reorientation, to discover new freedoms, to take the next career step or to fulfill old professional wishes.

Supporting the team during the separation

Also, don't forget the remaining team. After changes in the team, there are often great concerns about one's own workplace and the company's situation, whether expressed or unexpressed. Get ahead of it. 

Decide together with the dismissed person how the communication in the team should take place. In this way you put control over the manner, timing and appropriate words into the hands of the person concerned. 

Ideally, you should call a short meeting to inform them about the farewell. This meeting should focus exclusively on this topic so that it does not get lost between other everyday information. The terminated employee and the remaining team are entitled to this appreciation of focusing on the information about the farewell and thereby giving space to the new situation. It also gives the colleagues the opportunity to clarify any questions that arise immediately - first and foremost:

  • Until when is the dismissed person still in the company?
  • Will the position be filled again?
  • Who takes over the tasks that arise?

In the case of dismissals for operational reasons, this interview can also be used to help the remaining team members to overcome their fears for their own jobs and to provide comprehensive information about the upcoming changes. This prevents uncertainty in the team and also the corridor radio.

Finally, a tip: Allow the team to say goodbye in a relaxed atmosphere. This strengthens the cohesion, the internal reputation of the department and enables all those involved to see the separation with a "smiling eye".

Stay in contact

"You always see each other twice in life." This may sound trite, but especially in professional life it has a true core. Due to changes in the job market and the agile influences of New Work, more frequent job changes are becoming the norm. This means that you know each other in the industry and learn a lot about potential employers through your personal network. In addition, the personal skills of the person dismissed may, under certain circumstances, be in demand again in the company at a later date. 

From the point of view of employer branding, it is therefore important to maintain good, casual contact after a separation. For example, continue to send out your employee newsletter or employee newspaper to your former team members, invite them to network meetings and special celebrations, and network via social media. If you break up in a friendly way, you can later work together again cooperatively and successfully.

What could alternatives look like?

Our experience shows that in many cases it is possible to offer the previously valued employees an alternative to simple dismissal that is profitable for both sides.

  • What skills will your company need in the future? Can the employee be retrained if necessary? In many cases, the costs for the loss of working hours, further training and familiarization with the new job are more favorable than the costs of a separation plus the costs of filling the position required in the future. In addition, there is the positive effect on the attractiveness of the employer in the workforce, as colleagues are well-disposed towards the company's human approach to challenges.
  • If there is no way around a separation, there is the possibility of a new or outplacement. In this way, the person concerned has a direct and smooth transition to a new job. Maybe even to one of your business partners! Use and stabilize your network. This is how New Work works. 

An outplacement consultation always starts with an individual conversation about personal goals, professional wishes, experiences and strengths. The next step is to work on self-marketing for the applicant market or to develop a start-up strategy. It is also shown how the own network can be used sensibly and further expanded. The icing on the cake is that the consulting firm uses its pool of contacts and vacant positions for a placement. Thus, the terminated person receives on the one hand the consulting service to set up his or her own application strategy in an ideal and promising way, and on the other hand active support in the job search by a professional recruitment agency. This dual support enables most employees to find a new position very quickly - even if they have been given notice - and often this is also a personal improvement in their professional situation.

Sources: der-qmb.info | onlinediskurs.de

About the Author
Milana Schreiber
Teamlead HRaaS & HR Consulting

Overview of our Services


We develop careers!


20 years of success!