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February 25, 2013 / mike54martin

It’s Not Easy to Fire Someone… But

you are fired

One of the most unpleasant tasks of any manager is to have to fire someone. It doesn’t really matter if the person deserved it or not or what the circumstances are, it almost always sucks. That’s why most of us are not very good at it and because of that we often make it harder on ourselves and the unfortunate person who is going to get the axe.

There may not be any good way to tell someone that their services are no longer required but there are certainly some things that we should never do. So here are some of the Don’ts of Firing.

Don’t Wait

It doesn’t help them or you to postpone the inevitable. If you know that a person must go, and this is usually after repeated attempts to correct behaviour, then cut the suspense and just do it. By now they have figured out that they are not going to make it and they probably feel like a mouse with their tail in a mousetrap. Put them and everybody else out of the pain.

Don’t Say You’re Sorry

Unless you have made a mistake in hiring them in the first place, then don’t apologize for letting them go. Give them the reasons: wrong fit, attendance, problems getting along… whatever made you come to this conclusion. And tell them the truth. If you have to make something up then you should be fired, not them.

Don’t Drag it Out

Go in with a prepared script, give them a chance to respond, and then stand up and shake their hand and say goodbye. You don’t have to debate your decision, you are the boss. You don’t have to answer any questions that you feel uncomfortable with. You have the right to remain silent and anything you do say can and likely will be held against you.

Don’t Let Someone Else Do Your Dirty Work

You are the manager and it is your job to hire and fire. That’s why they pay you the big bucks!! Don’t shuffle this unpleasant task off to a supervisor. Man or woman up and take responsibility for your decisions. It may get any easier to fire someone but you can get better at it.

This post first appeared on my blog at

Mike Martin is a freelance writer and author. His book Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult people is a valuable resource for manager, supervisors and anyone who wants to get along in the workplace.

He is also the author of The Walker on the Cape, a Sgt. Windflower mystery.

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