Firing someone? Incorporate Dignity, Grace, and Respect

Today is “Black Monday”; the day many NFL coaches will be publicly fired. We will hear about the head coaches with household names. However, behind the scenes, we do not hear about all the assistants, strength coaches, personnel community, nutritional experts, etc.

Whether in a pro football organization, or a small business, a termination is painful for each party involved. (If it is not painful, then perhaps something else is going on…). As leaders, we must be sure to treat each termination with empathy, and respect for that other human being. People who suffer job loss go through some predictable emotional stages, including lowered self-esteem, despair, shame, anger, and feelings of rejection. While you may have plenty of legally relevant reasons for the termination, you are still severing a large part of that human being’s life.

To find a new role, the person may have to uproot their family, deplete their savings, and in some situations, seek assistance just to feed their children and themselves.

When a termination is not handled in a dignified manner, business people ought to realize the other employees are seeing a very clear message: “We don’t care about you or anyone else.” When the company does not care about employees, the employees do not care about the business. Customers feel the attitude, too, and it leads to performance, product, and balance sheets suffering.

Not every employer can provide a healthy severance package. But even small concessions can go a long way toward helping the employee, as well as those employees left behind.

HR can review their resume and LinkedIn profile, help them understand their Unemployment Insurance and COBRA rights, and an executive can introduce them to an outside resource. I am sure you can think of some additional ways to assist, too. Please leave your suggestions below.

Here’s to a great 2016, where we all find joy and fulfillment in our roles, as well as happiness with our lives outside the business community.

For more ways to ensure legally compliant and morally respectful termination decisions, contact me at 


Steve Lovig, is known as a “Different Kind of HR Leader,” a Human Resources Executive with expertise in Human Capital Management, Employee Relations, Retention, Training, Recruiting, and Cultural Improvements.

Contact via or 404-791-7454.