How to Effectively Fire an Employee

Sections of this topic

    © Copyright Carter
    McNamara, MBA, PhD, Authenticity Consulting, LLC
    Adapted from the Field Guide to Leadership and Supervision in Business and
    Field Guide to Leadership and Supervision for Nonprofit Staff.

    Strongly Suggested Pre-Reading

    How to Ensure
    Strong Employee Performance Management

    Sections of This Topic Include

    Basic Guidelines to Fire an Employee

    Additional Perspectives on Firing Employees

    Also consider
    Performance Management
    Related Library Topics

    Basic Guidelines to Fire an Employee

    1. You should consider firing the employee only if you’ve done the following.
    You have
    a) given the employee clear indication of what you originally expected from
    him or her (via a written job description previously provided to the him or
    b) have clearly written personnel policies which specify conditions and directions
    about firing employees and the employee initialized a copy of the policy handbook
    to verify that he or she had read the policies;
    c) warned the employee in successive and dated memos which clearly described
    degrading performance over a specified time despite your specific and recorded
    offers of assistance and any training (the number of memos depends on the nature
    of the problem, but should be no more than three or four); and
    d) you clearly observe the employee still having the performance problem. (Note
    that if the employee is being fired within a probationary period specified in
    your personnel policies, you may not have to meet all of the above conditions.)

    2. Take a day or so to consider what you are about to do.
    For example, consult with members of your board.

    3. If you still decide to fire the employee, do so promptly.
    Do this, both for your credibility with other staff members and so as not begin
    procrastinating about this rather painful, upcoming event.

    4. Write a letter of termination to the employee.
    As with the previous letters of warning, be clear about the observed behaviors,
    when you saw them, earlier warnings and their consequences, what you did in
    response, and the consequence that must now be enacted according to your policies.

    5. Tell the computer system administrator to change the employee’s password.
    . Assert that this action should be done promptly and in complete confidence.

    6. Meet with the employee. Provide them the letter. Explain how the termination
    will occur.

    Include explanation of when, what they must do, what you request from them and
    when. Ask for any keys. Give them a half hour or so to remove personal items
    (you may choose to monitor them during this removal, depending on the nature
    of the grounds for dismissal). Consider changing the door locks to the facilities.
    Change the passwords on phone systems, if applicable.

    7. As with other meetings, make notes of what was said and exchanged.
    Keep them in your records.

    Additional Perspectives on Firing Employees

    of Firing an Employee

    for hiring and firing

    Firing with Dignity

    Is It My Job to Fire Employees?
    When You Fire an Employee
    Should You Fire Yourself?

    Firing the “So-So” Workers
    Firing the Executive Director

    Learn More in the Library’s Blogs Related to Firing an Employee

    In addition to the articles on this current page, also see the following blogs
    that have posts related to Firing an Employee. Scan down the blog’s page to
    see various posts. Also see the section “Recent Blog Posts” in the
    sidebar of the blog or click on “next” near the bottom of a post in
    the blog. The blog also links to numerous free related resources.

    Career Management Blog

    Human Resources Blog

    Leadership Blog

    Supervision Blog

    For the Category of Supervision:

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