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Take aim – FIRE! (part 2)

If you read part 1 last week and came to the decision to fire someone then (understandably) you may be nervous about how to go about this. It may tie your stomach into knots or even strike the fear of god into you. Well fear not friends, help is at hand.

Having both fired and been fired, I’ve picked up some pointers that help with this often nerve racking process. Dealing with it in the right way makes the whole thing more bearable, so here’s your checklist.

  1. Remember why you’re doing it. Revisit the questions that you carefully considered to get you to the point of making this decision, that’s why you are here. Also consider that you’re not doing it because you don’t care about the person, in fact the exact opposite should be true. Whilst it’s possible that you don’t like them, you care about them because you know that leaving the current situation unchanged is ultimately going to be of even more detriment to them. This is also why many of us find this uncomfortable – because we care about upsetting a fellow human, but they will survive. They will learn and grow because of this. So will you. Do the right thing.

  2. Keep it brief. This is the best bit of advice I’ve ever been given about dealing with this situation. It may seem harsh but the longer the meeting goes on the worse it has the potential to become. The more debate is likely to be sought. The more frustration and aggression is likely to rise. Get straight to the point, say what needs to be said and bring things to a close.

  3. Be brutally honest. Don’t dress it up with mitigating language, that would be weak and would not be of any benefit to you or them. Getting fired is a big deal so it’s really important that they understand exactly what the reasons are. (If you have already been giving them clear feedback as suggested in last weeks post then they are unlikely to be completely surprised with this outcome anyway)

  4. Check protocol. Boring I know but you absolutely must check out how your company deal with this process. There may be certain words you need to say, or physical documents you need to provide.

  5. Seek assistance. Have someone else in the room with you. If you are firing a permanent member of staff then HR must be involved. They will be able to help with point 4 but they will also expect you to be able to demonstrate and articulate how you’ve been providing feedback, offering support and guidance over the previous weeks / months. If you are firing a contractor then ask another manager or senior member of staff to join you. Having someone else in the room does two things 1. Helps to keep both you and the person being fired calm and present. 2. Allows you to receive feedback about how you did afterwards so you can also learn and develop as a part of this process.

  6. Rehearse. Write down what you want / need to say. Practice saying it aloud. Anticipate questions or objections that may come up and document your responses. DO NOT try to wing it.

  7. Don’t do it via text message. Yep. This shit actually happens.


This might seem like a light weight list for a heavy weight subject but that’s deliberate. Every situation will vary to some degree, but having made the decision to fire someone, it ultimately comes down to the same thing – having an honest conversation with another human being, so crack on and do it. Don’t over-think it. Don’t over complicate it.

Your company is paying for services that are not being provided. Would you keep a toaster than kept burning your toast or bin it and get a new one? Would you buy a second book by the same author if you thought the first one was shit? Would you continue to use a window cleaner that leaves the glass worse than before they started, covered in smears and grime? No. You’d look to make a change to ensure you are getting what you need.

This is not personal. This is business. Good luck.


If you have any additional insights into this process that you have benefited from, then please share them in the comments section.

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