The Do’s and Don’ts about Firing an Employee

Adapted from:  Sophie Deering, Senior Account Executive at Link Humans

No matter what the circumstances are, letting an employee go is never going to be an easy decision to come to or task to undertake and unfortunately as an employer, it’s something you will most probably have to face at one time or another.

To make sure things go smoothly, here are a few suggested do’s and don’ts of firing someone.

  1. DO consider your decision fully beforehand

Make sure that you are 100% certain about your decision and that your reasons behind it are completely justified before moving forward with the dismissal.  As soon as you have come to your final decision, act quickly, so that you don’t allow it to drag on and negatively affect any other employees or the running of business.

  1. DON’T fire someone without warning

There’s nothing worse than just springing it upon someone out of the blue! If the employee is being let go on the basis of poor performance, make sure that you hold a meeting before taking action, to let them know about your concerns and allow them the chance to turn things around. If the employee’s performance hasn’t been up to scratch, then you should consider issuing a series of warnings before the employee can be dismissed.

  1. DO let them know in person

Realise that you are dealing with a human being with emotions and rights. By no means should you break the news on the phone or via email. It’s important that you arrange a face-to-face meeting in order to show them respect and respond to their reaction appropriately.

  1. DON’T get someone else to do the dirty work

It is unprofessional.   The news should come from someone who knows the individual and is qualified to properly explain the reasons for their termination.

  1. DO give them a full explanation

You can’t dismiss an employee without having a justified reason, so you must be prepared to explain exactly why you are letting them go. Prepare what you are going to say ahead of the meeting, so that you provide them with all the information they need to know, as well as the appropriate paperwork.   You must also inform the employee of any rights or entitlements that they may have.

  1. DON’T do it in front of an audience

Don’t let the person know in a public place, or in front of any other colleagues, as they have a right to privacy and should have the opportunity to process the news before others find out. Arrange a meeting that is in a neutral and private location, free from disruptions, such as a meeting or conference room.

  1. DO allow the employee to ask questions

it’s important that you allow them to ask any questions they may have about why they are being dismissed and what happens next. Emotions are likely to be running high and different people will react in different ways, so give them the opportunity to voice their thoughts. Provide them with honest answers, however avoid getting into a debate about the situation or allowing the conversation to get heated.

  1. DON’T get personal

The reason for firing the employee should be entirely related to their performance or the needs of the business. It is important that you keep your emotions in check and explain the decision without sharing any of your personal thoughts about them as an individual or involving any grievances you may have.

  1. DO show the individual respect

Show the individual respect and demonstrate discretion. It’s likely that they may become upset or angry, but try not to get defensive or enter an argument with them. Instead, put yourself in their shoes and allow them to react to the news in the way they feel fit (within reason). The best approach to take is to be kind and sympathetic towards them, while expressing your regret that the employment didn’t work out.

  1. DON’T end on a low note

There’s no need to burn any bridges if possible, so try to end your conversation on a positive note. Thank the employee for their contributions during their time at the company and wish them luck in the future.


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