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How to Fire Someone

Firing someone is never easy, but sometimes it’s necessary. Use our guide for how to fire someone to help you navigate employee terminations.

The employee-employer relationship is very important to the successful operations of a business. When the manager has a good rapport with their employees, things run more smoothly and the business can proceed more successfully. When it becomes necessary to let someone go, it is important that it is done in the least painful way to both the employee and the manager.

In this post, we will explore how to fire someone in a dignified fashion while maintaining a positive attitude when possible. If the employee is treated in a respectful manner so that they can maintain their confidence in themselves, it is a much better scenario than creating a situation that is full of drama and anger.

Read on to learn more about how to fire someone.

How to Fire an Employee

The first thing someone should know about how to fire an employee begins with an understanding of the person you are dealing with, as well as the situation itself. It is critical that you do some planning before you schedule the meeting. Take some notes and be specific about why you are choosing to terminate them, without being emotional or angry.

Be prepared to defend your actions with valid reasons for the termination that are important to your business. It can't be something like, "I just don't like you," or "I don't like your political views," for example. They can bring a wrongful termination suit on you if you try this.

When it comes to how to terminate an employee, you should have a system in place so that you can be consistent with the process. To implement an effective employee termination process, make sure to follow the steps listed below.

Connect with HR

Human resources is an important connection to make before starting the process of termination for an employee. It is important that you know your company's policies regarding terminating an employee so that you will have a legal and ethical standing that you can support should you be challenged on the grounds of the termination.

Make sure you and the HR department have tried to remedy the situation in ways other than termination. In most cases, it is considered best practice that you attempt to solve the problem first in other ways before going straight to termination. Make it the last option.

Schedule a meeting

Once you are sure you have your thoughts together, you should schedule a meeting with the person you are terminating. Make sure the meeting is in a private setting so that other employees cannot overhear the reason for termination or any other information. An HR employee may sit in, but unless other key administrators or supervisors have an interest in and want to be a part of the meeting, no one else should attend.

Sometimes it's best to turn it over to the HR manager to explain the reasons for termination. Then you can ask the person if they have any questions or if they wish to make a statement.

Get prepared

Preparation is key to a termination meeting in order to make sure you have covered all of the legal bases. You will want to familiarize yourself with all of the legal and ethical issues surrounding termination in case you are challenged. If the person tries to claim that you are discriminating against them for some reason, you need to show them specific reasons for why you are letting them go to disprove any kind of maltreatment.

When someone is being fired, they are not going to be in the best mood. Some cry and some turn their anger on you or the person delivering the message. Remind them that you must put your company's reputation and revenue first and that the decision was something you thought through carefully before you came to this decision.

If you have copies of previous meetings you had with the employee regarding the things you reprimanded them for, bring these to the meeting. It may not always be necessary to bring them out. But if the employee becomes angry or says you are not treating them fairly, you can produce these documents or logs as needed.

Deliver the news

There's nothing good about being fired. It can be a dark moment in a person's life when they get fired, as they’re losing a source of income and stability. Remember that you are delivering news that may potentially devastate someone. You are doing what is best for your company, but it will still hit someone hard. Try to keep the actual termination meeting to less than 10 minutes.

Keeping emotion out of it, directly address why your company cannot keep them onboard. Make what you tell them a learning experience, if possible, so that they won't make similar mistakes in the future. Offer to give them a recommendation on their good points, if you think you can honestly do so.

Discuss the next steps in the process

Ask the person you are firing if they have any questions, then explain the next steps in the process. Explain to them how you will handle their last paycheck, when they will receive it, and discuss any severance pay packages. If they have an office, give them a reasonable time to have their office cleaned out and wish them the best in the future.

Consider performing at least one act of kindness, such as asking them if you can help them arrange interviews with hiring services or other agencies. This is why many companies offer a severance package, so that the employee will not leave with nothing and you are communicating that their employment was not for nothing, that they offered a great deal of value in the past, but that now you must go your separate ways.

Tips for How to Fire Someone Nicely

So how do you give someone the worst news of their life with a smile? You don't. You will likely feel some pain from it, too, because there may be qualities you still like and appreciate about the person sitting in front of you. The end of something is never pleasant but, like a breakup of any kind, not everyone was meant to be in our lives forever.

It can be difficult to be polite yet firm as you fire someone. That’s why we’ve listed a few tips that can help you better understand how to fire someone nicely.

Be brief, clear, and direct

Remember not to "beat around the bush" when terminating someone. Firing an employee is not easy and they can probably sense it's coming. How many people who are fired are really surprised? Not many. They probably had been having altercations with their supervisor, customers, or staff, or perhaps knew you were not pleased with something long before they heard those final words, "You're fired."

Bring a witness

If you are dealing with a particularly volatile person or situation, bring a witness with you, someone whom you can trust and who will not overinflate the situation. The HR manager is fine if they are good at keeping the peace and being kind to people. Don't take a hothead who insists on lecturing the person for their downfall. This can make a bad situation turn horrible. Study up on how to terminate an employee before setting up the meeting.

Be prepared

Come to a termination meeting prepared with any documentation or paperwork you may need. If the terminated employee threatens legal action, take notes on everything that was said between the parties, in case you need it later. Stay calm and non-emotional. Don't give the person a reason to say you were unfair or abusive to them. If you have a witness, the person cannot say you said or did something you didn't.

Don't surprise anyone

If you can see into the future that you are going to have to let someone go, plan ahead by leaving a "paper trail" that can be traced, showing all of the actions you took to try to help the employee, as well as the resources you provided them with to be successful. This shows you are not being arbitrary and just need all employees to do what you ask so that the business can run smoothly and efficiently.

Now that you know a little about how to terminate an employee, make sure to not just walk in one day and fire someone without first letting them know you are displeased with their work. They could claim you were arbitrary and capricious in your firing and that could look like a type of discrimination.

Choose an appropriate time and place

Make sure you choose a quiet, private place to terminate someone. It should be so private that few people have any idea it is going on. Spare the person as much embarrassment as possible while you give them the news and tell them what the next steps will be for them.

The timing of when you fire someone is important as well. As a general rule, firing someone earlier in the week tends to be better, as this gives them more weekdays where they can visit the unemployment office and search for new opportunities. Also, try to avoid firing employees right before any major holidays.

Show compassion

Don't operate like a machine. Show your human side a little by telling them you are sorry you have to let them go. Compliment their strong points and wish them well. If they are good at certain tasks, help them connect to people who might be interested in their talents.

Final Notes

Remember when getting ready to terminate someone that you followed this basic checklist first:

  • Prepare and review all termination policies
  • Connect with HR
  • Schedule the meeting
  • Get prepared
  • Deliver the news
  • Discuss next steps
  • Show compassion
  • Try to end on a positive note by discussing how you can help them move on

Firing an employee is never an easy task, even if you know how to fire someone nicely, but sometimes it must be done. At the same time, one issue that can contribute to performance issues within a company may be the tools and technologies the company uses. After all, inadequate tools can lead to poor performance or friction between teams. That’s where Mailchimp comes in.

Mailchimp offers an easy-to-use, all-in-one marketing platform that helps your business flow in a streamlined fashion so there are fewer opportunities for human error. We utilize all of the latest technology to help your team work smoothly, from CRM software to email marketing tools. So, whether you want to create a website or set up an online store, turn to Mailchimp for convenient marketing solutions and make sure your business operations run without a hitch.

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