How To Fire People Without Destroying Them At The Same Time

Human Resources

Whenever you ask top business leaders about the hardest thing they have to do, it’s firing people. Nobody wants to tell an employee that they no longer have a job and will have to seek gainful employment elsewhere. 


Sometimes, though, it’s a business necessity. Perhaps you invested in a product you no longer need. Or maybe fewer customers are demanding your services, leaving you with no choice. 

Whatever the issue, there is a right way, and a wrong way, to fire people. Ultimately, your goal should be to minimize the damage it causes to their lives. 

Don’t Drag Your Feet

While the prospect of firing somebody you like and respect is never an easy process, eventually the time comes when it becomes necessary. Ultimately, you have to decide what’s best for the company, not your personal relationship with the individual. If they keep making mistakes or can’t get their act together, it is better to have a conversation with them sooner rather than later. 

Remember, the earlier you can tell somebody you no longer need their services, the more notice you can give them (during which time they can look for another job). 


Sometimes, managers will regret firing people. But if you find yourself getting stuck in this thought pattern, it is worth considering the matter from the perspective of your team. Think about how much better off they will be without the offending person dragging their feet. 

Set Up Your Unemployment Benefit System

Hopefully, the person you fired has savings to sustain them while they look for another job. But sometimes they don’t. That’s not your fault, but it is something that will no doubt run through your mind as you’re letting them go. 

Setting up your unemployment benefits system in advance, therefore, is a good idea, especially if your state requires you to do so. According to many sites you can actually outsource the process to professionals who will do it accurately for you, ensuring you don’t make mistakes. 

Use The Past Tense When Delivering News

The process of actually telling a colleague you’re letting them go is never a pleasant one. The best way to do it is to take them somewhere private, out of the earshot of other people, and communicate what’s happening in a couple of sentences.

Say something like, “I’m sorry, but today is your last day here with us” and then give a reason why. When giving your reasons, use the past tense to make the point clear and avoid them begging for a second chance. 

Phrase it something like “we’ve decided to let you go because you didn’t fit in with our culture” or “you haven’t met your sales targets since you joined.” Putting it this way makes the reality of the situation clear while also respecting the dignity of the person involved. 
Remember, leadership requires compassion. It also means not getting sued, according to So keep it brief and be clear about your reasons.

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