When It’s Time to Fire an Employee

If you are a manager, firing an employee is never at the top of your list. It’s the number one reason for stress and manager burnout, but it’s necessary to keep from having bad-fit employees slowing your business down, or putting your reputation on the line.

Identify the Problem

If you have a sense that an employee is struggling or is an ill fit for his role, take the time to assess how you defined that role when you hired them. Where did they stray from the path? Has this always been a problem, or only more recently? Once you’ve pinpointed from your end what the issue is, schedule a meeting to get their take on it. It may be that there are personal issues that are keeping their performance under its normally stellar level. In that case, you may be able to address the issue and move forward together.

Their lack of success may be due to your processes (or lack thereof) or other work impediments. It is your job as manager/supervisor to remove any obstacles on the work front that may be impeding employee success.

Be Honest With Yourself

It may be easier not to fire someone, but if this employee is causing extra work, or keeping your company/department from growing, you’ve got to get over the fear of firing and just do it. If you’ve spoken to your employee, the firing should not come as a surprise. Resort to firing only if you have already exhausted other means for helping them succeed.

The Nitty Gritty

Firing should always be done privately, away from curious co-workers. Be prepared to provide reasons why you’re letting them go. This gives them some closure and also helps them know the areas they should work on to thrive at their next job. Be compassionate, but not overly so. Don’t talk too much. Say what you need to say and nothing more. Your employee may have some things to say, and you should listen.

It’s your responsibility to ensure that you have the best staff for the job. Firing is simply the opposite side of the hiring coin, and it’s a necessity for your company’s success.

Photo by RG
From Small Business Trends.

One Comment

  • One of the things Ive done in the past is to actually bring on a new person on a temporary basis first, usually 30-60 days. If that works out good, I bring them on permanently.

    Firing is an itchy subject though, and I consult businesses often that have that one person that needs to be fired, but the owner/manager is too afraid to do it, and it is a bottleneck in the whole system.

    I think you hit the nail on the head when you talked about clearly define roles…that is the most critical piece in business. SOOOO many companies dont even have job descriptions of what their team should do, and when the owner gets frustrated, its really their own fault.

    Bottom line: firing people sucks, but these things need to be tackled head on, or the problem only gets bigger.



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