Avoid the stone-face, but avoid heavy emotion as well. Try to deliver the news in a caring, human way -- neither robotically, nor overly sympathetic.
Ask the employee if he would like to say anything. Encourage feedback, but do not engage in a dialogue with the employee
Express confidence that the employee will succeed in his future career pursuits, or that he may find a "better fit" with another organization.
Establish a method for ending the meeting so that it does not turn into a protracted conversation with the employee. For example, the meeting may start with everybody sitting down. When it's time to end the meeting, the firing manager can rise to her feet, shake the employee's hand and wish her well. Or, the firing manager can direct the employee to follow the HR representative to another office to receive her final paycheck and insurance documents.
Be prepared to give the employee his final paycheck or other outstanding amounts due. Prompt payment may discourage ill will by the employee, and will prevent the need for further interaction between employer and employee.
Recover badges, keys, customer lists, and other proprietary materials. Take possession of laptops, company cars, and other property belonging to the employer. De-activate security codes, access numbers and passwords.
If the company provides out-placement services or counseling, be sure to offer it. If nothing else, HR officials should provide materials on job-seeking opportunities, procedures, and contacts.
Do Not Leave Gates Unlocked.
Do not forget to shut down the employee's access to the computer system remotely. To the extent possible, cut off the employee's access to customers and clients, to trade secrets and other proprietary information.
Do Not Forget about Co-Workers
Do not forget to advise co-workers of the employee's termination as soon as practicable after the employee has left the premises. Assure them that further terminations are not being contemplated. Remaining silent about the discharged employee arouses suspicion and rumor-mongering and allows ill will and uncertainty to fester.
Do Not Forget about Clients.
Do not forget to intervene promptly to contact important customers and clients. Customer accounts should be secured and re-assigned immediately, and the company should introduce its new representative to the customers quickly and professionally.
Do Not Forget about Benefits
Do not forget to advise the employee before he leaves the premises (or shortly after his termination) about his eligibility for COBRA health insurance continuation benefits, retirement benefits and other such programs. Final paychecks and outstanding paid time off should be remitted to the employee right away upon his discharge.
Do Not Stop Documenting.
Do not close the employee's file yet. Be sure to document exactly how the termination meeting unfolded. Document who was present, what was said by all parties, the start and finish times, and all other relevant aspects of the meeting. Document that the employee received his final paycheck and HR-generated documents.
Do Not Ignore Information.
Do not ignore what the employee says when given an opportunity to respond to the termination notice. Do not ignore other information or scuttlebutt that often circulates in the immediate aftermath of an employee's discharge. Evaluate the quality, consistency and reliability of any information, and share it with legal counsel if genuine legal concerns are raised.