Firing an employee can be very difficult, and it’s almost always an awkward situation. For most managers, firing employees is the part of their jobs they dread the most. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to ensure the process goes as smooth as possible.

1. Be certain

You should never make a snap decision and fire someone when you’re angry. This could cause you to fire someone you never intended to let go, and that could be bad for the company and you. Sure, you could always rehire someone that you’ve mistakenly let go, but you will have made a lasting negative impression on the employee that you previously let go—this is why it’s essential to only fire someone when you’re 100% certain.

2. Document

When you need to terminate someone, never do it unprepared. Take the time to approach the employee regarding your concerns about their work performance (coach/counsel) and give them a chance to succeed before you fire them. Allow them time to train and give them enough time to improve at their job before taking any action. Also, always make sure to document any poor performance which will help to solidify the reasons behind terminating employment (if it comes to that). In fact, you need to document everything you’ve done including giving the employee training. When you have everything properly written down, the termination process will be easier.

3. Be Prepared

When you’re firing someone, you’ll need to have everything ready beforehand. Every detail should be taken care of to speed along the process. For instance, find out when the employee will be given their final paycheck. Know everything about how their benefits will be affected. In addition, find out how the employee will be able to take his personal belongings with him. When you know all details, you can make the process of firing an employee much easier and less awkward.

4. Have a Witness

A witness may make terminating an employee a little more awkward, but it will protect you from potential problems down the line. Having a witness will ensure the fired employee doesn’t claim that you said something you actually never said. This gives you protection, so a witness is vital.

5. Figure out What to Say

You need to decide what you’ll say beforehand. By knowing what to say, the process will go much more smoothly. When delivering the termination message, stick to something short and simple. The less you have to say, the more dignity the employee will be able to retain.

6. Refrain from Arguing

Firing someone may cause them to become angry and start arguing with you. Don’t get drawn into the argument; this will only make the process harder. If the employee starts relentlessly arguing with you, be firm but kind and say that there is nothing they can say to you that can change your decision. If you get angry and argue, you could say something you regret, and it could even cause you legal trouble. Fire with compassion, not arguments.

7. Don’t Make Empty Promises

When firing someone, you are making their life worse. This is difficult to digest, but there is usually nothing you can do to help them, so don’t make empty promises. Don’t say you’ll help them or that they can call you any time. Empty promises are rude and do nothing to help the situation.

Final Thoughts

Firing an employee is one of the most difficult tasks we have to do as managers. I have yet to meet a manager who says they enjoy the process and I’m sure I never will! However when we fire employees the right way we can make the process less stressful on the organization, the employee and ourselves.

What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.