You’re Fired


Handling employee terminations is one of the most difficult aspects of management, even if the actual termination is handled by human resources. However, if you follow the “5 golden rules” outlined in this 2-minute read, you will be prepared the next time a termination situation arises. 

Golden Rule #1 - Get a partner

As with any disciplinary action, managers should never act alone. All decisions and meetings should involve at least one other person. Too many things can go wrong when managers have the freedom to act unilaterally or without the support of another person. Ideally, this other person is from human resources or management.  

Golden Rule #2 - Be direct

During the termination, it’s important to be very clear and direct. Simply inform the person that a decision has been made to part ways and clarify next steps. That’s it. A termination meeting may only last 10 minutes and that’s not a bad thing. Of course, this is a much easier meeting if the person has previously received a final warning and anticipates termination.  

Golden Rule #3 - Protect the person’s dignity

Take whatever precautions you can so that the person may collect their things and leave without having to face their coworkers, customers, or others. As difficult as this is for you as a manager, it is ten times worse for the person being terminated. Do what you can to reduce the trauma.  

Golden Rule #4 - Manage the message

After a termination, there will be talk. There will be questions. And if direct communication from management is absent, there will be speculation, gossip, and perhaps false conclusions.  Staying silent makes it worse. Manage the message by proactively explaining that there was a separation -- a parting of the ways -- that occurred recently and that you wish this person all the best. Provide details sparingly and never share information that is confidential. 

Golden Rule #5 - Move on

Some people just don’t work out. It’s OK. Try to learn from the experience. Identify specific items to improve on, especially if mistakes were made. Every new hire is a fresh start so focus on providing a better experience for the next person. 

Handling employee separations and other critical management processes are included in our course titled “Management Foundations” and currently available at

Now go forth. 

Tags: Firing Employees , Termination , Disciplinary ,