Mike Maslanka, who pens a blog oriented toward employers wrote a helpful post on terminating employees.  Mike is well read on management and leadership techniques.  He suggests the following:

1.  Conduct the termination meeting at the employee’s work space or office.  He explains that the manager can get up to leave after completing the difficult task.  The manager can "escape" when the meeting concludes.  And, going to the employee’s space also suggests some level of respect for the employee.

2. It may be unethical to keep an employee in a position in which they are not a good fit.  You, the manager, owe it to the employer to not retain folks who do not fit.  It is as much a strain on the employee as it is on the employer. 

3. Be patient.  The manager has had time to adjust to the new reality, the employee has not.  Give him/her time to digest what you have said.  They say a termination should never be a surprise.  But, truly, it almost always is a surprise on some level.  No manager should schedule an appointment immediately following a termination meeting. 

4. Allow the employee to retain some dignity.  As Mike explains, that means different things to different people.  To Mike, it means do not show false empathy.  Do not say "I know how you feel" unless you have been fired yourself before.  The best thing you can do is simply allow the employee some time to compose him/herself.  Silence is golden and respectful. 

5. Mike also suggests you look at yourself.  Ask yourself how and why you hired the wrong person. In the Army, we conducted "after action reviews" after every major training exercise.   The goal was to analyze the good and the bad.  Every termination, just as every major employment issue, should result in some improvement to the organization. 

If every employer followed these tips, lawsuits would decrease dramatically.  See Mike’s post for more information.