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 | By Patricia Mish

Letting an employee go with kindness and respect

I hired a new employee about a year ago.

I think it’s clear to both of us that she is not a good fit for the role. How do I let the employee know it’s time to part ways in a way that is respectful and kind?

I am guessing many of us – executives, managers and employees – have been at one end or the other of that equation. Here, as in so many of life’s dilemmas, we can turn to the Sermon on the Mount for guidance: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

Have you been laid off before or has a friend or family member? If not, try to put yourself in the employee’s shoes before you begin the conversation. It sounds like you both know this job isn’t working out, so hearing that from you probably won’t come as a shock.

Here are a few tips to prepare for this conversation:

Each of us is made in the image and likeness of God.

It’s important to make sure the employee knows that you value him or her as an individual – which is totally separate from what they “do,” or specific skills they may lack.

Be direct.

Take time to reflect on the reasons you are laying off the employee. Does it have to do with budget cuts? Does the employee lack the skills needed to get the job done? Is he or she unreliable? Your employee may not thank you today, but down the road will appreciate your honesty.

Offer help.

While the employee may not be a match for your company, if possible, provide him or her with resources to help them land the next job. Many companies offer laid-off employees career or resume help. If that is not possible, point them to resources offered by other organizations.

Express gratitude.

Here again you can affirm the employee’s human dignity by pointing out the ways they have contributed to the company and thanking them for their efforts. The conversation will look different for those laid off due to budget cuts versus those whose performance didn’t measure up. However, even in the latter case, you can affirm the good work they did and the characteristics that may help them as they move into a new role.

It’s never easy to let someone go! However, our faith and the Scriptures can help us approach these difficult conversations in a way that respects the dignity of every person, created in God’s image and likeness.