Editor’s note: Deb Boelkes is an entrepreneur and author of “Heartfelt Leadership: How to Capture the Top Spot and Keep on Soaring.”

No leader wants to let an employee go. Unfortunately, in these harsh and uncertain economic times, more and more of us find ourselves having to deliver some very bad news. Without question, it’s one of the most painful parts of being a leader. But you can let people go without abandoning them emotionally – and as the pandemic sets in for who knows how long, it’s a skill every leader needs to learn.

 Actually, how you lay someone off should be an extension of how you lead. Great leaders do both with compassion, integrity and candor. They lead with an open heart and the assurance that employees have what it takes to excel – and they let people go the same way.

Heartfelt leaders inspire employees, engage their emotions and help them pinpoint and pursue their passions. Over my career I have strived to be an example of what heartfelt leadership looks like in action – even when having to let an employee go. Read on for tips on how to fire someone the heartfelt way. 

Above all, follow the Golden Rule. If you must lay somebody off, the best approach to take is: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The Golden Rule is a guiding principle that leaders should live by every day, but never is it more important than when employees are at their most vulnerable. Imagine how you would want to be treated if you were to lose your job and move forward with that in mind. You would not want to hear bad news via email or a mass Zoom call, or be treated as if you didn’t matter to your supervisor and your company.

Maybe you can’t be by their side, physically – but you can be emotionally. Early in my career I had to lay off my team when I worked for AT&T. When my first team member came into my office, I motioned for him to sit on the sofa instead of in one of the...