How to fire an employee
One of the hardest things you will ever have to do in your business is firing people.
There’s no easy way to do it. And you will feel like crap after the fact. But it’s one of those things everyone goes through.
To help you prepare for it I created this three part guide.
It will serve you as a reference point, a check list of all the things you need to do in the process of firing someone.
#### Part One: Assess The Team You Currently Have ####
The very first thing I ask my coaching clients is… “show me your ORG chart.”
(Read our post on Org Chart Template)
Why? Because you need to figure out who your A players are.
So take out your ORG chart and go through your team members.
Stop at their names and ask yourself, “is this person an A player, a B player, a C… or an F?”
You DO NOT want any F players. If you did mark someone as an F, you should fire them right away.
And then fire everyone you marked as a C, too.
C players will never become A players. That’s a fact.
If you marked the person as a B… then the next question you ask is, “Can I train them to become an A?”
If the answer is yes, awesome! Your job now is to train them.
On the other hand, if the answer is no… well, you need to fire them too.
The thing is, you really want to pay attention to your A players. That’s the only people you want to have in your company. If you have A players stuck in a team full of Cs… they will leave you sooner or later.
Now that you have your team members assessed, you move on to…
### Part Two: Don’T Fire Everyone Right Away! ####
Before you go on a purge and fire everyone… you need to give people a chance.
Here’s how you do it.
Step one: Set super clear expectations in advance.
Everyone should have a clear set of metrics or KPIs they are responsible for, and you can measure against.
The best way to do that is right at the beginning when you hire somebody new.
It’s not always as easy as, say, with Sales where you have a clear quota to meet. But usually you can come up with some kind of metrics that can tell you if an employee is performing or not.
The point is… you need to have an evidence that’s “numeric” rather than just saying, “you didn’t do a really good job.”
In other words, you want to have some data to refer to.
Step two: Make sure you have consistent employee reviews.
It can be quarterly, yearly, or… whatever you feel it’s right for your situation.
The important thing is that you DO have them consistently. Measure your KPIs so you know if your team members are improving or not.
Set up a system, put it in your calendar… do whatever it takes to make sure it’s consistent.
And when you notice, during the reviews, that some of the employees are not keeping up…
… Then you move on to…
Step three: Is this a common behavior?
We are all human beings. We all have stuff that happens from time to time affecting our performance.
A divorce, getting married, kids get sick, etc… all these bad situations can be the reason why somebody is not performing well.
And if this person is normally an A player you do need to give them the benefit of the doubt.
Step four: Keep records.
Keep records of everything you notice.
Here’s why: When you do need to fire someone and you can’t prove you’ve given them ample time to correct their performance… or you can’t prove you’ve explained everything crystal clear…
If you can’t do that then… all sorts of lawsuits can happen.
So talk to your lawyer and make sure you keep records. Get everyone involved on the same page and make sure they understand what’s happening.
Step five: Ask yourself, “what does my business need?”
Pretend that your business is a separate entity.
This will take all the emotional stuff away from you so you can stop, listen… and hear what your business is telling you.
And if the answer is, “my business says I should fire this person…” then you know what to do.
### Part Three: The actual meeting! ###
Warning: This is going to be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. Trust me on this.
That being said…you need to do what needs to be done.
Step one: Figure out exactly WHEN you’re going to fire them.
Set the date in advance.
Some people say Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday mornings are best. Others say you should do it Friday afternoon.
Whatever. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what day you do it. It sucks equally either way!
Just decide what is the easiest for you and do it.
Step two: Create a checklist of exactly what needs to happen.
Figure out things like:
– who will replace this person,
– what things you need returned from them (keys, other company stuff, )
– when will you change all their passwords,
– do they need the severance,
– what’s the logistics behind their final payment… and so on.
Make sure you have all your ducks in the row before the meeting.
Decide when you’re going to tell them about the meeting.
Step three: Try to minimize the impact it will have on everyone.
Plan ahead where the meeting is going to take place.
You don’t want to affect your other employees. But you also want to give space to the person you’re firing when the emotions erupt.
Keep it private. Emotions will come out and they might end up crying or get angry.
On that note… it’s better for you to not do the firing alone. If you have somebody in HR make sure they’re there. Or if you don’t have an HR department… then make sure another person assists the meeting in case something does happen.
Step four: The meeting.
When the time comes…
Call them in and go straight to the point. No beating around the bush.
Be firm and super clear on what’s happening from the very first sentence.
Then, explain how this meeting is going to go and move into the logistics.
This is how I do it:
I start, “this isn’t working out. I’m sorry but this is your last day.”
Then I say, “first I’m going to tell you the reason why I’m doing this and then we’ll go into logistics… so you understand what needs to happen next. This isn’t something I really want to do but I feel you’re a poor fit for this specific role. If I were hiring you again I would try to find a role for… yada yada.”
See what I did there?
You want to keep their respect and dignity. So don’t list them all the things they suck at. (They probably know that anyway.)
It’s better to just say they’re not a good fit for this position. Because that’s true. And… most likely they are a better fit for something else.
So be helpful and respectful… but let them know this is your final decision.
Next, explain the logistics and tell them what happens:
When can they clean their desks and say goodbye to coworkers… what they need to do to get their final paycheck… and so on.
And that’s it.
You just went through your first fire… and you survived!
Here’s the thing. Even though the firing part is always hard… the logistics DO get easier once you’ve done it a few times.
And remember: You are NOT a bad person for firing people.
You’re the owner. You have to take responsibility for your organization.
If you keep bad employees around then your business will not be able to thrive.
And that’s not why you’re here, right?
Hi I’m Jaime. Each and every week I bring you the top business advice from the people who know best.Learn More