In over thirty years, I have conducted my share of termination meetings. Some due to layoffs, some as a result of shutdowns, some disciplinary, and some due to failure of fit. I think that’s why I seem to be drawn to some of the current reality shows. I feel drawn to the process by which someone is kicked out.
The reactions are interesting, and reflect my experience. It seems that some people know it’s coming and are committed to fulfilling the assumption. Others are shocked, tearful, angry, and even in deep denial.
It is difficult to predict the outcome of a meeting like this, which is why I recommend that some sort of security action take place. If I am working somewhere that has security personnel, we generally stage them nearby. If not, we ask a few people in the immediate area to work in a different office and put some supervisors nearby in case they are needed. While I have been nervous quite a few times, I’ve never had a fearful experience.
So I always get a kick out of the end of Top Chef, when one of the contestants is told “Please pack your knives and go home”. I don’t really want a fired employee to first get a hold of their most dangerous tool before they walk out the door. One precaution I would take is to say “We had your knives packed up while you were in here, and they will be delivered to your home”.
But reality TV is not so real, and I’m sure they aren’t considering this approach as an example of the right way to terminate an employee.
What security steps do you think are necessary in a true termination? Have you ever been truly afraid at work during a time of layoff or reduction?
It’s all a part of staying safe. Let’s be careful out there.