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When speaking to an employee about termination, plan what you want to say ahead of time and avoid bringing your personal opinions about the employee into the the conversation. — Getty Images/SDI Productions

If your business has hired employees, it’s likely that you will need to terminate someone at some point in your journey. Whether you’ve experienced this before or not, the process can be uncomfortable and stressful to navigate, so it helps to prepare exactly what you’ll say and how you’ll communicate the decision to any remaining employees on the team. If you find yourself in this situation, here are some effective ways to communicate employee termination.

How to terminate an employee

Plan your script

To make the process run more smoothly, plan what you’ll say ahead of time. Be direct when stating that the employee is being terminated, as you don’t want there to be any confusion on this front. Provide some explanation for your decision: Briefly mention a policy or expectation the employee has broken or notify them that they are being laid off.

Schedule a termination meeting

Although you’ll need to schedule a termination meeting, avoid giving the employee too much notice to avoid causing them stress or confusing the rest of the workplace. Instead, ask them to speak with you when you are ready to terminate them and give them the opportunity to leave right away.

Don’t make it personal

Don’t use the termination as an opportunity to air your grievances with the employee. Avoid making broad statements about their personality and focus instead on a specific violation that has led to your decision. Do not compare the employee to others on your team, and resist the urge to apologize or express your emotions.

Explain severance benefits if applicable

Outline any severance pay or COBRA benefits the employee can expect to receive. Present the employee with documents covering the material and give them an opportunity to ask any questions they may have about the process. Let the employee know when and how they will receive their final wages, and before the employee leaves, retrieve any company property and have them sign an NDA if necessary.

[Read more: Firing an Employee? Here's What to Do Next]

If rumors do start to spread about the termination, speak to the person or people involved directly and privately.

How to communicate employee termination to the team

Choose the right place and time

Notification of termination will likely look different for every workplace. First, notify anyone working directly with the terminated employee within a few hours. These are people who would notice the absence and be concerned if you remained silent. Otherwise, wait until the next day to provide an official, office-wide statement.

If you have a small team, let everyone know at once. If your company is larger, you can likely use an email to share the news. Regardless of when and how you notify the rest of your team, make sure your employees know who they can talk to if they have any questions or concerns, and ensure the messaging is respectful and straightforward.

Avoid drama and dispel rumors

When sharing news about a termination within your team, keep it professional. Instead of getting emotional or adding unnecessary details, convey only the facts to your team. Be clear about how you will transition during that change. Avoid mentioning anything specific about the reasons behind the termination — your reticence here can protect you legally as well.

If rumors do start to spread about the termination, speak to the person or people involved directly and privately. Although you still won’t reveal anything about the termination, you can get to the heart of your remaining employees’ concerns.

Use the right language

For a general termination, consider a statement like: “Jeremy will no longer be working with us. We will be hiring to fill his position. Let me know if you have any questions” or “Today is Deirdre's last day. We’ll all be pitching in to cover her responsibilities for the next week.”

If the termination was a layoff, you can incorporate some kind sentiments: “We’re very sorry to see Shandra go. We’re so grateful for the excellent work she’s done these past few months.”

If the termination dealt with something problematic, like harassment, you can address those issues directly: “Lee is no longer employed here because we value the safety and comfort of our employees.”

[Read more: Firing an Employee? Here's How to Do It Right]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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