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5 steps to letting go of a veterinary team member

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You might not want to let go of that receptionist or veterinary technician, but sometimes you're left with no choice.

You might not want to let go of an employee, but sometimes you're left with no choice. Here are four practical tips for carrying out a painless termination:

1. Plan ahead. Make sure you have a transition plan in place before you terminate the team member. Analyze her duties to make sure everything will be covered. Think about how you'll post the job opening online or in print. Have a plan in place for collecting her uniform, keys, or other supplies.

2. Do it at the end of the day. Don't embarrass the team member by firing her at the start of her shift so she has to walk back out in front of her coworkers. Call an inconspicuous one-on-one meeting without cluing in the rest of the staff.

3. Prepare a letter. Write a letter explaining why you decided to terminate the employee. Often, when you fire a team member face to face, she'll hear very little of what you say in the moment because of the emotional weight of the situation. Reading the letter later will help her understand your position.

4. Offer to help. Sometimes a team member is a good person but just isn't a fit for your hospital. If that's the case, offer to write her a letter of recommendation based on her positive traits.

5. Tell your team. You want the rest of your staff to hear the news from you. So call a quick meeting and give a brief summary about why the employee was let go. Don't go into specifics, and try to focus on the positive things the team member did for the practice. Afterwards, enforce a no-gossip policy—both within the practice and online—and enforce it.

No one wants to fire or be fired, but sometimes it's best for everyone involved. Just remember to show respect to both the terminated employee and the rest of your staff to make the transition as easy as possible.

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