Transparent Separation: A More Humane Approach to Firing People

A More Humane Approach to Firing People

By David Siegel
August 21, 2018 | Harvard Business Review

Every manager knows the termination playbook: Be direct, keep it short, walk the employee out the door, shut down access to email, and so on. Having led three businesses, managed thousands of employees, and overseen hundreds of terminations, I had always followed the playbook drilled into me by legal and HR professionals.

A couple of years ago, however, I decided to try a new approach, one that that is both more humane and better for the company culture and the business. I call it “transparent separation.” With transparent separations, you don’t blindside an underperforming employee or fire him outright. Instead, you encourage him leave to on his own by letting him know he is going to be let go in time and needs to start looking for a new job ASAP. I have now had this conversation with many employees, and the results have been radically different from the response I received in the past. With this approach, inevitably I am thanked.

There are three key constituencies who benefit from this approach. Departing employees, their managers, and a group that is seldom considered when someone is cut loose: the rest of the employees…

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