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  • Writer's pictureRalph Kellogg

Human Resources - AKA The Dream Squasher

"I want to terminate an employee!" This is a statement every person working in the field of Human Resources has heard at some point.


There is always a series of questions that Human Resources Representatives ask when a manager wants to terminate an employee:


  • "What is the reason for termination?"

  • "Have you spoken to the employee about their performance?"

  • "Has the employee been issued disciplinary action for their performance?"


These questions, or a facsimile, therefore, typically drive managers bonkers. The sentiment is generally, "Don't stand in my way…let me terminate the employee so I can move on."


It is important for managers to understand that the Human Resources Department is there not only to support the organization but also to protect the organization from compliance and legal consequences.


Terminating an employee is a life-changing event for the person impacted. Exiting an employee from an organization also impacts the manager, team, and department ecosystem. Therefore, terminating an employee, unless it is due to gross misconduct or illegal activity, should be carefully considered. 


Here are some reasons why HR might seem to be a roadblock when you try to terminate someone:


Legal Compliance:

HR professionals ensure the termination follows all relevant employment laws and regulations. They are cautious to avoid legal repercussions, such as wrongful termination claims.


Policy Adherence:

HR ensures that terminations align with the company's policies and procedures. Unless there is gross misconduct or illegal activity, the progressive disciplinary process outlined in the company's employee handbook should be followed. If the progressive disciplinary process is not followed, there should be clear, documented reasons for a deviation in the process.



Human Resources is responsible for maintaining accurate and thorough documentation of employee performance and disciplinary actions. HR will want to ensure a clear and documented reason for termination.



The Human Resources Department often manages the communication process related to terminations. The HR Manager or HR Business Partner will want to ensure the termination message is conveyed professionally and consistently.


Risk Management:

Potential risks associated with terminations, such as the impact on team morale, the possibility of retaliation, or the perception of unfair treatment, must be assessed – the Human Resources Department will evaluate risks associated with termination decisions.


Employee Wellbeing:

It may be stating the obvious, but terminations impact employees viscerally. Regardless of the reason for termination – employees often equate their self-worth to the termination. An employee's internal dialogue during a termination meeting might be, "Why me?" "What's wrong with me?" "Am I not good enough?"


Termination conversions should be managed respectfully and with compassion. Human Resources professionals are adept at and knowledgeable at navigating these conversations.


Ethical Considerations:

HR professionals are guided by ethical standards, and they will challenge decisions that they perceive as unfair or inconsistent with the company's values.


Managers must collaborate with HR during the termination process to ensure the decision is well-founded, legally sound, and aligned with organizational policies.


Human Resources is not a squasher of dreams; they are not trying to usurp managerial decisions. HR helps to address concerns, clarify expectations, and facilitate a smoother termination process.


Employee terminations are tough for everyone involved. To ensure the best possible outcome, leaders and managers must partner with Human Resources to ensure the termination process is done with compassion, respect, and integrity.



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