How to Conduct The Remote Termination

Terminating employment with an individual calls for empathy, even if your company has “good cause” for doing so. Unfortunately, breaking the news via video conference presents additional hurdles. In person, thanks to what neuroscientists call mirror neurons, humans communicate emotion. As the saying goes, you can feel the sadness/tension/surprise in the room.

Because the news is being delivered remotely, those facilitating the termination have to simulate what would happen in person. Those conducting the termination should put in place all of the “signaling systems” to create a serious, yet caring and respectful tone for the conversation. These signaling systems include proper lighting for each speaker, professional attire, neutral body language, the use of hand gestures, appropriate facial expressions, and a slow pace of conversation. The latter is a must, since for many, being fired comes as a great shock.

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The meeting should begin with the spokesperson thanking the employee for being at the meeting. Then the spokesperson indicates the company has found it necessary to terminate the employment of the individual. That decision, the spokesperson emphasizes through tone, has already been made and is irreversible.

The script should cover all of the items included in the termination letter. The spokesperson then informs the employee that a letter is also being mailed following the meeting. If the employee asks questions or raises objections, only preapproved responses should be read to the employee. Do not stray from the termination letter that was drafted.

Once the employee accepts the decision, then the matter of severance can be introduced.

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