Your toughest task may come when you have to fire someone. Your second-toughest task may come after the firing, when you have to deal with the ripple effects of the firing.
It’s a time when the anxiety level is high, and people are on edge. You’ll have to deal with all that, and at different levels:
With other members of the group. You’ll have to acknowledge that someone’s gone. Ignoring it just creates more tension, gives the appearance that something covert is going on and fuels the rumor mill.
How to handle it:
• Avoid the “why.” You could be stepping into a legal gray area of privacy if you go into the details of the termination. Simply say, “As you know, Bill has left the company.”
• Explain the short-term plan. His former co-workers will want to know who’s going to cover for Bill, when and whether he’ll be replaced, and so on.
With relevant organization departments outside your group. Often, others in your organization will have had contact and business with the former employee.
The approach in that situation is to have a one-by-one sit-down with the supervisors of those departments.
Explain to them that Bill has left the organization, that you’re establishing new contact people for outside departments and who those new people are. Don’t try to explain the situation to workers in another supervisor’s department, unless that supervisor asks you to.
With customers or other outsiders. If Bill dealt with people outside the organization, simply explain to them he has left the company and who his replacement will be.
Outsiders may need assurance that it’s “business as usual” and they should expect no breaks or drops in service.