How to Terminate an Employee HumanelyHere’s how not to fire someone:

On August 6, 2013, during a conference call with onsite employees and approximately one thousand remote workers, Tim Armstrong, AOL’s CEO and Chairman, abruptly and publicly fired Abel Lenz, creative director of Patch, an AOL news division.

The reasons behind the abrupt termination are less relevant here than the way Armstrong went about it. (He later apologized for the incident, but Lenz was still fired.) The point is, while it’s never a pleasant task, there are better, more compassionate ways to terminate an employee.

Jada Graves, Careers Editor at U.S. News, offers helpful tips for firing an employee with compassion and dignity in an article for U.S. News Money.

Six Tips to Terminate an Employee with Compassion

No to firing on Friday, yes to early in the week. Terminating an employee on the last day of the workweek “gives the fired person Saturday and Sunday to feel miserable and simmer in a 48-hour holding pattern.” It also leaves the individual with little opportunity to immediately contact people in his or her network for advice and support.

Taking the action sooner in the week (Monday or Tuesday) offers the fired employee “a better launch-pad for planning his or her next steps.”

Don’t schedule a formal after-the-fact meeting for other employees. A formal meeting to discuss the action you’ve taken “might lead to unwanted questions” about the situation—“plus it’s just a little morbid,” Graves says. You don’t want this to be the only thing on everyone’s mind for days afterward.

Instead, if you feel it’s necessary, “go around to employees individually to quickly explain that their colleague is no longer with the company”—adding that you’re not at liberty to share any more details.

Share the news on a need-to-know basis. Some people within the organization should know about your decision beforehand. Depending on your company’s structure and culture, these people might include the soon-to-be-terminated employee’s direct supervisor, an appropriate person within Human Resources and, if necessary, your IT department.

Don’t ad-lib your way through the firing conversation. Both HR and your company’s lawyers should help “script what you may say and what you absolutely shouldn’t.” Winging it, on the other hand, can aggravate the situation through misunderstandings or, worse, lead to a lawsuit.

No perp walks. There’s little in life as mortifying as having to pack up your office belongings and be formally escorted out of the building, while your (now) ex-colleagues look on. This is as true for a chief financial officer as a front-line receptionist.

As Graves notes, “This type of treatment breeds resentment in the fired person and affects the remaining staff by inspiring gossip and clogging productivity.” Try firing the individual at the end of the day, with as much dignity and privacy as possible.

Offer assistance if you can. No one expects you to offer a professional reference (“You did just fire this person, after all”) but consider sharing a job lead if there’s something the newly fired individual “is better suited for.” Anything to help ease the difficult situation will be greatly appreciated.

The decision to terminate an employee will come up at some point in every business. How you go about it says a lot about you and your leadership style.

What guidelines do you follow when firing an employee?