May 31, 2023

How to Fire an Employee Gracefully

Sometimes as a manager you have to let people go. It’s an ugly truth and ideally it won’t be a big part of your job, but sooner or later you will encounter a situation where a team member is not working out. Knowing how to handle that situation gracefully can make a big difference.


To fire someone gracefully and legally, follow these simple steps.


1. Make sure you are firing the employee for a good reason. Under no circumstances, you should fire an employee based on an ethnic or religious basis, or even for a reason related to his personal life, disability, medical problems or any other reason violating the Employment Law & Human Rights.


2. Try as much as possible to avoid this situation by clearly and directly communicating to your employee that you noticed a change in his performance. Offer him support as a person and organization. Have with him a two way conversation to see how things can be improved and check if he is having personal issues hindering his performance. Offer training and assistance. If, after several encounters and assistance, the employee continued to perform badly you can take your decision. Call the employee to your office to deliver the news.


3. Prepare the conversation you will have with the employee. Once in your office with the employee, get straight to the point. Don’t mince your words this is a time to be very direct, and don’t spend time talking about all the things he did wrong to get to this point.


4. Prepare the necessary paperwork to complete the termination of employment. Have a representative from HR available immediately after you deliver the news to go over the procedures and termination routine.


5. Communicate the change to your team. Call to a quick meeting and explain the situation. Make sure everyone knows that this was the end of a process in which every effort was made to find a way for the individual to be successful, but that ultimately it didn’t work out. If you are unable to get your team together in one place, send a brief email notification and then schedule a time to call each remote team member individually.


6. Write a summary of the discussion you had when you fired the employee and file the summary in the employee’s termination folder.


Now that you have been involved in the various steps to take during the termination process, have a look at some of the things you should avoid to ensure a smooth, graceful and legal termination process.


1. Remain calm when you fire an employee. The employee will probably get angry or cry. It’s ok to let him/her briefly state how he/she feels and ask questions.
2. Stay professional and kind at all times.
3. Don’t yell or berate the employee while you are firing him. You already have the power – you’re able to fire the employee.
4. Don’t debate the employee’s performance with him. The decision has already been made and is not up for negotiation.
5. Don’t let the conversation last a long time. When you fire an employee, it should take you no more than ten minutes to have the discussion and begin escorting your former employee out the door.
6. Don’t defend yourself. Even if you’re told you’re a lousy manager, resist the temptation to tell your side of the story. Calmly redirect the conversation back to the worker and your decision.
7. Don’t talk about yourself and do not offer advice.
8. Don’t offer false praise and tell the employee all the reasons why you think they’re great.
9. Keep all documents you prepared to fire the employee and make a list of items to collect, such as keys, laptop, and passwords.
10. Ask a staffer from human resources to brief the employee on continued health insurance, accrued vacation, and final pay.


No matter how many times you fire an employee over the course of your career, it isn’t, and should never become an easy task. However, if you follow the steps and advices outlined above, you can at least be sure that you have done everything within your power to handle the situation in a professional manner.