Do's and Don'ts of laying someone off


  • Do meet in person, with two people present.
  • Have all paperwork & severance arrangements available
  • Have someone else cut off credit card/e-mail/dropbox/other login access at the start of the meeting.
  • Start the conversation by saying, "This is going to be a difficult conversation"
  • Keep it short. Own your words.
  • Plan a meeting before the workday begins. Minimize public exposure if necessary.
  • Allow employees to leave personal items. Come in with them over the weekend to clear out their space.
  • Make sure you allow time for questions related to references, exit coaching, unemployement, etc.
  • Offer exit coaching as a benefit.


  • Do it over e-mail or on the phone
  • Plan a meeting in advance for the rest of the in advance. They will catch on and begin speculating.
  • Allow questions related to performance.
  • Don't justify lacking performance with detailed examples.
  •  Don't create ambiguity over the rationale. Be clear and candid.