A Guide to Firing Someone the Right Way

Fired, dismissed, let go, whatever way you word it, it still sounds like an awful process. As most HR Managers know, terminating an employee’s contract can be just as gut-wrenching to deliver the news as to receive it.

Nevertheless, when being in the direct line of termination, regardless of whether you were involved in the decision or not, there are certain steps to take to ensure that it’s done so in the gentlest way possible.

Follow a Basic Procedure for Dismissal

Following a basic procedure can help an employee learn from any failures, and in the event of any angry outbursts towards you or refusals , can help you pinpoint where there was a breakdown in communication:

  • Firstly, note how many performance meetings this employee had over the last 3 months. Were any issues raised then? Note how many written and verbal warnings have taken place. Meeting regularly with each team member regularly opens a natural dialogue on how they should be approaching their work.
  • Think about the feedback that was delivered to the employee. Were they made aware of any issues with their work or within the company? Was enough guidance and feedback delivered to the employee in question and were they given a change to improve?
  • Show as much transparency & honesty as possible. A dismissal sometimes occurs because of circumstances that we have no control over. Mergers, reshuffling, department cuts and downsizing are all factors that have no bearing on the individual in question, so while this may make it easier for you in the long run. When rumours from higher up in the company start about potential reshuffling, it’s time to tell your team before anyone else gets there first and starts to question your loyalties.

In terms of other preparation, if you have been given the orders from above, most likely your HR department will be in touch, however if this is your decision then definitely enlist the help of HR. Every country has differing employment and labour laws; however, the following reasons for dismissal are unlawful in most countries:

  • An individuals gender.
  • A persons ethnicity or cultural background.
  • An individuals sexuality.

Do Your Research on Behalf of the Terminated Employee?

Was there ever time when you looked back on a situation and thought, I wish I’d been more underprepared! Probably never. That’s why it will never hurt to get clear on the reasoning behind the termination, such as:

  1. Information about the last paycheck or what settlement package has been agreed.
  2. How to return any company equipment.
  3. Any Annual leave days that may be reimbursed.
  4. Dates of when company benefits expire.
  5. A contact higher up in the company for further information.

They’ll likely be in a state of shock, so having all of this ready for them and laid out clearly will help immensely going forward.

The greatest kindness you can offer anyone in this unfortunate situation is by being straight forward and brief. Even the best metaphors, euphemism or tales of personal failure won’t be able to soften the blow. As an alternative, tell them outright and don’t speak for a few moments to give them time to fully absorb the information.

As a final act of departing kindness, offer to walk with them to their desk or help them gather their things, as well as the following departing comforts that may start their job search off on the right foot:

  • Letters of recommendation. (Check with your HR line Manager before offering this).
  • Networking contacts.
  • Introductions to people in their industry.

Contact us for any HR staffing matters, we have local experts who would be happy to assist you.