In our struggling economy, many companies face the difficult task of letting employees go. My advice: Terminate with dignity and you'll set downsized employees up for success, keep remaining team members calm, and stay in the good graces of public opinion.

America's unemployment rate was 6.5 percent (December), the highest level in more than 14 years. That's the depressing "big picture." Zoom in closer and the picture gets grimmer still. Yes, when it's your company that must lay off employees, the pain of the dismal economy manifests in a deeply personal way. Downsized employees feel it most keenly, of course. But also affected are the leaders who must do the dirty deed (few of whom relish firing people in theatrical Donald Trump-style), the remaining employees, and the company as a whole.

In short, there is little "good news" to be found. But you can minimize the bad news. Handling terminations the right way will not only help separated employees make the best of a bad situation, it will calm the nerves of their co-workers who didn't get the ax