By Matt Angello
As a former senior executive in charge of Human Resources for over 20 years, I was involved in more than my fair share of employee terminations. While these events are never enjoyable for any of the parties involved, there are some important considerations you should keep in mind if and when you find yourself in this situation.
First of all, do not expect a "heads-up" that the event is about to occur. There may be telltale signs, but little else. I advise my coaching clients that one of the warning signs that you may be in trouble with you boss is if they "go quiet" on you. Never worry about being fired by the boss who is communicating with you; it's the silent ones who are lethal.
Because you will likely be surprised, you certainly will not be prepared. After the dreaded words are said, do your best to stay tuned to the conversation. I know that this is difficult, but it can pay big dividends later. Take notes of the conversation. If you do not have note taking materials, stop the conversation and ask for them. While you will likely receive written documents outlining the details of your termination, it is helpful to jot down the salient points and any editorial comments from your boss.
Resist the temptation to react emotionally. Do not plead for your job, get angry or argue events. Unless your boss is a rogue (and they seldom are on terminations) the decision was reviewed and approved by upper management and HR. There's no reversing field. Keeping a cool head and collecting facts will equip you to do the most important thing you can in these situations- maximize your benefits.
Your manager has been trained to keep the meeting short. That's okay, so long as you get a good handle on the information. Be professional, courteous and calm. Advise your boss that you need some time to process the information but would like to follow-up the next day. They will often be fine with this since they are obligated to give you time to review the information. End the meeting gracefully.
Here's the most critical step. Prepare to negotiate your package. Managers are always trained to say that there is no negotiating, but that is not true practically speaking. The most fertile ground for negotiating involves "notice pay," or the amount of time you will stay on payroll until your termination is effective. Extending this is critical because your health insurance usually extends along with it. Request more than has been offered. Explain in calm and quiet terms why you think it is appropriate. Don't argue, but be firm. If they refuse, advise them that you would like them to revisit the issue with their boss and HR and that you don't need an answer right away.
The other area that is highly negotiable involves personal references. The company may have a "party line" on referrals, but individual managers are often willing to provide positive references, unless the termination is for cause. Respectfully request such a recommendation, both in writing and as a referral for you next job.
Above all else, stay professional. Do your best to keep your personal feelings aside. They are better discussed with someone else, whom you trust anyway. Understand that the discussion is also difficult on your boss, and if you do your part to make this bad situation better, they will be more inclined to your requests.
Matthew Angello is the Founder and Principal of Bright Tree Consulting Group, LLC and a former board-level executive in Fortune 500 companies. He offers highly personalized and effective coaching for individuals seeking to unleash their potential, move their performance to the next level and prepare for future challenges. Visit our website to learn about our services and enjoy our free downloads- http://www.brighttreecg.com