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How to Effectively Fire an Employee

© 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
Employee 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 her);
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

Basics of Firing an Employee
Guidelines for hiring and firing
Firing with Dignity
Is It My Job to Fire Employees?
When You Fire an Employee
Should You Fire Yourself?
Firing Employees
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.

Library's Career Management Blog
Library's Human Resources Blog
Library's Leadership Blog
Library's Supervision Blog

For the Category of Supervision:

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