by Cheryl-Anne Sturken | April 01, 2007

IllustrationIt’s always hard to let someone go, no matter the reason, notes Paul Falcone, author of The Hiring and Firing Question and Answer Book (Amacom). “It is one of the most vulnerable times in anyone’s life, and you want to treat them with respect and dignity,” he says. Here is Falcone’s advice for managing the task.

Gather paperwork. Before the meeting, go over the employee’s personnel file and make sure all documentation is in order, particularly if termination is a result of poor performance. And save that information: An employee has up to one year to challenge an employer if he believes he has been wrongfully terminated.

Mondays are best. It’s a huge mistake to wait until 5 p.m. on Friday to hold a termination meeting. It gives the person all weekend to stew, which can result in workplace vengeance. Do it early in the week, and tell the employee that you are available all week to answer any questions.

Soften the blow. Say you’re sorry and that it was purely a business decision. It helps to give the employee insurance and health benefits information, such as a number to call for COBRA filing, as well as instructions on how to file for unemployment.