The 11 Steps To Firing An Employee

Being a business leader is not all roses and gumdrops (I suspect you already knew that). You will be required to fire someone at some point. Perhaps it is based upon the employee’s poor performance, or deviant activity, or maybe it is due to struggling times. Regardless of the circumstances, you better know how to fire someone before you just blindly do it. Here are the 11 steps you need to know to properly fire someone:

1. Do It Quickly – Too often business owners wait for an ideal time to fire someone. But, rarely ever is there a perfect time. When you know it is the right decision don’t hesitate, take action quickly.

Chances are the employee has a suspicion it is coming. While they are physically still at the office waiting for the hammer to fall, their heart is elsewhere. Quick action will reduce gossip and prevent spreading concerns over “who’s next.”

2. It’s The Best Thing For Them, Too – Stretching out the employment time for a “dead-man-walking” only further hurts your business. But there’s more, it is unfair to the employee too. As they stay stuck in a job where they aren’t working out, you are delaying them from working a job where they can truly excel. Or even worse, you are holding them back from starting their own company.

3. Do It Privately, Kinda – When it comes to the termination, have the meeting in a conference room or office, where you, the employee and an HR person are in attendance. Going the meeting alone route could result in he said, she said.

Don’t have an HR department? Bring in a senior employee or manager who can act as a witness. If that isn’t even possible, then do it yourself – but document everything.

4. Show Emotion – It sucks to be fired and it sucks to do the firing. It is OK to show some emotions when you are sad or disappointed. A stone cold face just makes the situation even more uncomfortable for the employee. The golden rule is professional sympathy. Whatever you do, don’t fake it.

5. Paperwork – Have a written notice prepared for the employee, explaining they are being terminated, the date the termination is effective and what the company is offering if anything in severance. Make sure all the other HR related papers are ready too – the COBRA documents, the final paycheck, etc.

6. Cushion It With Cash – If you can and if they deserve it, give the person a little money to cushion the departure. Two weeks of pay is relatively typical, one month is generous. Don’t pay severance if you are terminating them for intentionally hindering the company.

7. Collections – If you don’t have a procedure in place for terminating employees, make sure you develop one. In addition to the steps listed above, your procedure should include the items you need to get back from a terminated employee. This includes things such as keys, security codes, badges, passwords, and customer contact information.

8. Hit The Road – Once the termination meeting is done, you should have the employee leave ASAP. I am not suggesting you kick them out the door, but you don’t want them lagging around. Allow them to say their goodbyes and clear out their desk. But don’t allow them to clear out their computer, if you get my drift.

9. Tell The Team – Once the termination has been completed, notify other employees as soon as possible. You don’t want word to spread through the grapevine about the recent firing, it could spread fear and the message inevitably will get mixed up. Call the remaining team together, tell them about the termination (but not the reason for it – that’s confidential) and tell them the direction forward.

10. Hit The Phones – Now that the employee is gone and the internal team knows what is going on, it is time to tell affected clients. If the terminated employee was a key contact from you company to your clients, you need to tell them about the change and exactly how your company is managing the account going forward. This is a time to over-communicate, so stay in regular contact with the client to assure them the service will be just as good or even better now that there has been a change.

11. Mail Them – If you didn’t have the final check ready when you terminated your employee, mail it out the moment it is ready. You don’t want the perception (right or wrong) that you are taking advantage of the situation.

Any other suggestions, tips or tricks? Write your comments below.


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