Fire Someone Today

That’s a dramatic title, and inspired by the blog post “Thank You for firing my Co-Worker” by the Entrepreneurs’ Network newsletter Overdrive.

The story of being thanked by the co-worker of a terminated employee is not something new.. it actually happens more often than you might think. However, I will mention a word of caution.. if you don’t dismiss a problematic employee in an appropriate & respectful way, the whole situation can actually back-fire on you! But more on that later…

Do you have certain employees who you just hope would resign?

Whilst you’re waiting for this person to resign, your star performers are getting less attention than they deserve because of your focus on the “problem child”! If you don’t act quickly, you risk that the wrong people will end-up resigning!

Are you trying to fix an unfixable employee?

After exhausting all means, as a final stage I often refer them to a voluntary performance improvement program such as Landmark Forum. In +40% of the cases, the result of this type of intervention is immediate and requires minimal continued pulse-check from your Human Resources professionals.

Now that you’ve made up your mind..

Indeed, to effectively safeguard your company, you MUST consider the following questions before terminating an employee:

1. Have you documented the failure to perform sufficiently to contest unemployment?

This will not only ensure that you are legally protected, but as well gives them a fair chance at recognizing their short-comings, and at the same time sends out a clear message to the remaining team that you have been fair and have taken a respectful & appropriately necessary action.

2. Do you or others have sufficient knowledge of the employee’s job to make a smooth transition after the exit?

This is another great way to piss your people off & turn what should have been a good firing into yet another problem for you to solve. Don’t be in such a hurry to fire someone that you leave yourself, your company, and worst yet.. your loyal & committed employees exposed!

3. Have you protected the organization from potential employee sabotage (computer backups, cancelled credit cards, confidentiality agreements, etc.) before the termination?

A checklist is the simplest & safest.. make sure someone accompanies the employee after dismissal so that they don’t have an opportunity to “rant & rave”, creating even bigger discomfort for the remaining team who are just trying to get-on with their work. What other manager can be present for the termination as a witness to protect you from false claims?

4. How will you communicate the termination to your employees and/or customers?

The secret sauce which should be well thought-out well in advance. Don’t mess around.. don’t embarrass  the departing employee but be as open and candid as possible with your staff. They’re not stupid.. they’ve seen that this person should have gone a long time ago. With your customers, be “neutral”.. after all.. it was your company (maybe even you) who hired this person.. and or allowed too much time to go by before finally acting.


These aren’t pleasant events, and to be honest with you, I’ve actually had more people simply quit when they realized that a change in culture was on the horizon and that processes were being put into place to ensure that everyone was accountable for outstanding contribution. By simply making a plan that (1) favors your organization, (2) wipes the slate clean to give everyone an equal opportunity to “shape-up or ship-out”, (3) putting into effect solid measurable performance criteria and (4) following this up with a routine performance measurement plan.. you’ll be surprised how many people voluntarily raise their hand to depart your organization.

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