Are You Prepared to Fire an Employee?

Nobody likes to be fired, and very few of us enjoy firing others. Nevertheless, there are times in which this most definitive of workplace actions is required: The relationship between employer and employee has simply reached the limits of its usefulness, and must be terminated. When these scenarios emerge, business owners or managers must brace themselves for a potentially uncomfortable or dramatic workplace encounter.

Indeed, in many ways, they must brace themselves for the worst. A firing can have a number of adverse consequences. When not handled appropriately, a firing can lead to lowered morale in the workplace, or — in some cases — even to legal action against a company. When you fire an employee, it is vital to take all adequate precautions to minimize these risks.

All eyes on you
The first thing to do is pause and reflect honestly on the momentous nature of this decision. When you fire someone, all eyes are on you — that is, all other employees will notice how you handle the situation.

Though the firing will surely be done in a private place, word will get out about what you say and do — and it’s important to remember that the level of calmness, compassion and professionalism you bring to the situation will ultimately impact all others in the company.

Using your organization
Preparing to fire an employee also means engaging the full resources of your organization. If your company has a human resources department, use it. If you’re not the head honcho, make sure your manager or supervisor backs your decision and they’re aware of what you’re doing. You want everyone on the same page about how you’re handling the situation.

Time and place
Next, prepare the best time and place for the meeting. Advice on when to fire an employee varies, but the most important thing is picking a time when you won’t have to parade the employee through the office at peak operation; you want to keep this as private and as discreet as possible. The place should be private, but also neutral — not in your office or in the employee’s, but maybe in a conference or meeting room.

Exit strategy
Prepare for how both you and the employee will leave the meeting. Start the meeting by alerting the employee that you have another meeting in 15 minutes, and then make it clear to them that you want to respect their time by informing them of your decision as quickly and straightforwardly as possible.

As for the employee, make sure you are prepared to give that employee a final task for the day or else allow him or her to pack up and leave the office.

Up in the air
Of course, for all of our tips on preparing to fire an employee, it is important to remember that you ultimately can’t prepare for everything. Expect the unexpected. Consider how you will respond if the employee cries, becomes angry, demands to speak to someone else, tries to walk out of the meeting or even threatens you.

How you handle these different scenarios is a tough thing to decide, but above all, make sure you remain positive and professional, never getting personal. This is the best way to minimize undue, adverse consequences of the termination for you or your organization.

Prepare yourself
A final caution: Getting fired is a stressful thing for any employee, but it is also stressful to be the one doing the firing. Make sure to prepare yourself emotionally beforehand; take a few minutes of quiet to calm yourself, to prepare for a heated exchange, and to ensure that you are able to be as respectful and measured as you can when you speak with your employee. Ultimately, this is imperative for terminating an employee in a way that does minimal harm to your company.

About the Author

Amanda E. Clark is the president and editor-in-chief of Grammar Chic Inc., a full-service professional writing company. She is a published ghostwriter and editor, and currently under contract with literary agencies in Malibu, Calif., and Dublin, Ireland. Since founding Grammar Chic in 2008, Clark, along with her team of skilled professional writers, has offered expertise to clients in the creative, business and academic fields. The company accepts a wide range of projects and often engages in content and social media marketing, drafts resumes, press releases, Web content, marketing materials and ghostwritten creative pieces. Contact Clark at


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