Terminating Employees Is Never Fun

Fired Rubber Stamp

Recently I had to terminate a couple of employees. This is definitely not my favorite managerial task to do.

When I was a younger manager and had to do this task I would get very upset and flustered, which hindered my communication.  I worried that there would be confrontation and I would be nervous, which could make matters worse.

I cannot say that I enjoy letting employees go or having confrontation with them, but I have become better at handling it when it does happen, and at times enjoy the challenge to make it a positive experience even when it has a negative outcome for them.

Here are a few techniques that I have learned, which make these types of situations less stressful and more successful.

1. Clearly, state the reason that you are having the meeting with your employee. “The purpose of this meeting is to discuss your employment with the company. Or ”We would like to discuss the issues that have become a problem.”

2. Allow the person to state their point of view completely and without interruption. Interrupting them will only make them more upset (I learned this the hard way).

3. Put yourself at the same eye level as they are.  If they are sitting then sit, standing then stand.  Keep your posture good and look at them directly when they are speaking and when you speak to them.

4. Keep your tone of voice calm and always professional.  Never use slang words, and always speak slowly and clearly.

5. If you are terminating them, hopefully you have already followed your progressive discipline policy and the employee already understands why they are being let go.  Be clear with the “why” and do not let the employee take lead of the conversation so that you may say something you should not.

6. Do not argue.  Instead agree in principle “I understand how you might feel that way” or “yes, I see this is upsetting to you.” This validates that you have heard them and shows empathy.

7. Let them know what you can do, if you can, about their issue and repeat it as many times and in different ways until they understand what it is that you can do.

Not all confrontations have a happy ending.  Reflecting on them, I try to learn what I could have done better or what I did that worked well.  These seven points in handle dismissing an employee have helped me tremendously to handle such situations with confidence, making a positive difference in my professional life.

The link below is to a post on creating a progressive discipline policy.


6 thoughts on “Terminating Employees Is Never Fun

    • Hi Stu, I agree it is not fun, but it is easier when you have a policy that deals with either misconduct or rule breaking that the employee has read and understands. This way when you have to have a discussion or terminate them they already know why.

      Have a great Wednesday!

    • Hi Elizabeth. I hope you are well. Thank you for your complement. I am glad I do not have to do this often, in fact, it has been rare, but in the last six month I have had to do it twice. I am glad I have good policies in place to help make it easier.

      Have a good Wednesday


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