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4 Tips for Firing Employees Gracefully

If you find yourself with no other option but to fire an employee, these few tips will help you approach the situation with grace and professionalism.

Firing employees is difficult. Employees who have worked hard to help your company grow and prosper often need to be fired due to changes in behavior, downsizing or because they no longer meet their job duties.

Graceful firing is the key to properly letting employees go, but no one likes to be fired even if it's done in a graceful manner.

If you find yourself with no other option but to fire an employee, these few tips will help you approach the situation with grace and professionalism.



1. Hold the Meeting Privately

In the majority of cases, you'll want to hold a meeting privately so that the employee is most comfortable. It's never a good idea to fire someone right in front of their colleagues – whenever possible.

You can fire the employee in:

  • Your office
  • Their office
  • A meeting room

Try and find a place where the employee will be most comfortable. In the event that the employee is a risk to you physically, it's best to bring a witness along. The idea is to make everyone as comfortable as possible during this trying time, and that also includes you.

If you feel threatened in any way, you'll want to choose a spot where you're most comfortable and safe.



2. Protect Your Business and Follow the Law

If you just up and fire an employee for reporting laws that your business violated, you will be in the crosshairs of a wrongful termination lawsuit. A manager from Taco Bell sued his employer for wrongful termination because he was fired for being a whistle blower.

And this can happen in any business – even a small mom and pop store.

If you want to protect your business, you need to:

  • Document company rules
  • Document employee infractions
  • Document disciplinary faults
  • Focus on the facts

Every state is different, so you need to follow your state's employment laws and ensure that all laws are followed when firing an employee.



3. Training and Feedback Before Termination

Company layoffs are much different than firing someone. A person shouldn't be fired without being given a chance. You should provide the employee with:

  • Constant feedback
  • Chances to better themselves

If the employee doesn’t know that he or she is making a mistake and believes they're doing their job properly, it's the fault of management, not the employee, that the issue was never corrected.

You should give the employee time to improve and offer training whenever possible.

Sometimes, an employee will realize that they're not a good fit for the position and will leave without you uttering a word. Don't be afraid to have a conversation with your employee and given them the opportunity to improve.

The hiring manager may have hired the wrong person for the job.


4. Keep It Short and Sweet

You have a right to fire an employee that isn't cut out for the job, so don't be long-winded and try to justify your reason. Keep the firing short, and provides clear reasons for letting the person go as well as be brief with your encounter.

It's much better when the firing doesn't drag on – for both parties.

You'll also want to have everything in order before firing an individual. This means:

  • Having a process for returning company items
  • Knowing when the person will receive their last paycheck
  • What benefits or severance will be offered

You need to be professional, too, so have an outline and procedure in place to keep every firing short and sweet.

Employees don't want to be fired just as much as managers and owners don't want to fire a person. If you follow the four tips above, you can help make the firing a little easier on everyone, including yourself.