For many entrepreneurs, firing an employee is the hardest part about being the boss. Here’s how you can lay people off in a way that respects the needs of both the company and the employee.

I still remember the first time I had to fire someone.

I still remember the first time I had to fire someone. It was the year 2000, and the Dot Com bubble was bursting with a vengeance. My startup’s revenues, which had been continually up and to the right had suddenly turned downward, as had our cash balance. Pretty soon, it was apparent that we’d need to cut our cost structure. By a lot.

As the founder and head of marketing, I had four people directly reporting to me, and another couple in my department. Our plan called for me to lay them all off. At the time, I was 25 years old.

I wanted to think of myself as a tough captain of industry, not a guy who felt like crying at the prospect of disassembling the team I’d spent so much time and energy building.

I managed to get through the day, but I can’t claim that I did a good job with the layoffs. In my prior work at D. E. Shaw & Co., I had never had to lay anyone off, though I had once boasted to my wife that I wouldn’t hesitate to let someone go if I thought it was necessary. I wanted to think of myself as a tough captain of industry, not a guy who felt like crying at the prospect of disassembling the team I’d spent so much time and energy building.

Since then, for better and worse, I’ve had numerous experiences with layoffs, both as an investor and a manager. And while it’s never easy, I think I’ve done it enough to be able to offer some useful advice on how to fire people.

In the tips I present, I’m going to focus on the challenges with laying off good employees due to challenging business circumstances; laying off bad employees for non-performance or malfeasance is an HR issue, not a management issue. All I’ll say is that when it comes to these bad eggs, the sooner the better.

1. Build a caring relationship with your people

This is the one thing I did right at my first startup. My people knew that I cared about them as well as the company, and that I wouldn’t lay people off unless I thought it was the only way for the company to survive. I’m embarrassed to admit that several of my laid off employees had to console me, and reassure me that they would be fine. It’s never easy to be fired, but it’s a lot easier to take coming from someone you care for and respect.

2. Meet face-to-face

Call me old fashioned, but I believe that a manager should face the employee she’s letting go. There’s a reason AOL CEO Tim Armstrong took so much flak for firing an employee on an all-company conference call. If the employee is normally remote, go to meet him, or call him into the office.

3. Start the meeting by announcing the layoff

Now when I need to lay someone off, the first thing I say when we sit down is, “I’m sorry, but we have to let you go.” Because you’re nervous, you may feel the need to issue a preamble, but all that does is waste time and make your soon-to-be ex-employee nervous as well. Get straight to the point, make it clear that the decision is final, and move as quickly as possible into the next steps.

4. Explain what happened, and explain what you and the company will do for him

I believe you owe your people an explanation, even if it’s as simple as, “We’re running out of money, and this is the only way to stretch out our runway.” Once you’ve provided an explanation, focus on laying out the concrete things you can still do for him. On a corporate level, this includes things like severance, instructions on exercising stock options, and COBRA for healthcare coverage; on a personal level, this includes things like offering to serve as a reference or to make introductions. Encourage the ex-employee to take notes; he’s probably feeling a bit shocked, and taking notes will help prevent misunderstandings.

5. Exchange contact information so you can stay in touch

In today’s world of social media, your ex-employees can be as important as your employees for your reputation. Whom do you think potential candidates will reach out to for their candid assessment? Therefore, it behooves you to stay in touch and on friendly terms with the employees you’ve had to lay off. Collect their contact information, as well as their social media coordinates. You may even want to create an “alumni” group on LinkedIn so that you have a mechanism for keeping them up to date on developments with the company. After all, they may still be shareholders.

Very few employees work their entire careers for a single company. If you start a company, and it’s at all successful, you’ll eventually have to fire people. But if you fire people the right way, you can maintain a relationship that will last and keep adding value, even after the employment relationship has ended.

An Unreasonable Challenge:

I’m not going to ask you to fire someone this month. But I am going to ask you to think about how you go about doing so. If you don’t have a set of policies and procedures in place, start working on them now. It’s a lot easier to decide what to do when you have plenty of time to mull over the options, rather than being forced to make tough calls with a ticking clock.

If you fire people the right way, you can maintain a relationship that will keep adding value.  Tweet This Quote

About the author

Chris Yeh

Chris Yeh

Chris is the VP Marketing for PBworks, partner at Wasabi Ventures, and an avid startup investor and advisor. He is also a co-author of The Alliance and serial tech entrepreneur in Silicon Valley.

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  • This was a solid article that gave some great suggestions dealing with a sensitive subject. Nobody likes firing people, but there is something to be said about what firing means. I really enjoyed your point on how firing doesn’t have to end the relationship with someone, if done right of course. If firing is done the right way, you can still continue to be friends with that person, and it also shows that you care immensely about that person as well.

  • What an interesting article! This is a topic I’ve actually thought about in the perspective of a possible employee and employer. As an employee, getting fired for the most part is going to be seen as negative because who wants to get fired from a job they are enjoying? In the perspective of an employer, it may be a difficult task firing someone the “right way”. I enjoyed this read , thanks!

  • Thanks Chris this was an interesting article to read. I have
    never had to fire anyone and I have never been fired as an employee. I feel
    like it would be a very uncomfortable thing to do especially if you know them
    on a personal level. As you pointed out the company has to come first. I really like that your advice says to skip straight to the point so you are not dancing around the topic and just end up confusing the employee you are trying to fire. Thanks!

  • I think these five steps are a pretty clear cut way to fire
    people. I think this is a good article for people to read because firing people
    is a tough thing to do. It is very awkward, and most people don’t want to be on
    either side of the conversation. It is
    definitely something that needs to happen face to face. If you are
    firing/laying them off, you at least owe them to do it properly, and give them
    good reasoning. One thing I don’t think I would want though is to exchange
    contact information so we can keep in touch. If I am being fired from a job
    that probably means we aren’t ending on good terms, and that would mean that I
    in no way would want to keep in contact with them.

  • I’ve never thought about how I would go about firing someone before, but I do think that building a relationship with people you work with and treating coworkers like people and not just like coworkers is important to whatever business obstacle you face.

  • Nice article! I agree that one of the hardest part of being the boss is to fire or laying off employees; especially if you are forced to laid off good employees due to financial hardship. All of the points that you stated were very good and I agree that you should be quick in laying off someone if you are absolutely sure about your decision. The longer you wait, the harder it gets to fire an employee. Good article, thanks Chris!

  • Thank you Chris, this was very interesting. Although I am only 19 and in no position of any kind to fire someone it is interesting to see the thought process behind it. I think it is a great way of going about letting someone go. Your steps are very professional but personal as well. I personally have never been fired so I will say I can not relate it to any past bosses and their way of going about it but I cannot see some of them being as professional. For bosses that have not used this technique in the past but maybe wish they had, would you have any suggestions of maybe reconnecting with the ex-employee?

  • These are great tips, Chris! It is always hard to say goodbye to an employee that you care about. The tip about building a caring relationship with your employees from the start I think is the most important one. If employees knows your true intention it makes it much easier to handle.

  • Not that I am in the position to be firing anyone, but my mother just had to do this and it was really tough for her, but she had created a really great bond with her employees and they also had to reassure her that they would be okay. It is tough, how do you let someone go that you know was a good worker, just not for that particular company?
    I am glad I read this article so that I can go into a lay off (hypothetically speaking) and know that some/most people mean the best, just are not sure how to do it. I will make sure to keep these in mind for when I would ever have to use this. Very resourceful article.

  • Keeli, I saw that you posted this article on Facebook and figured that one of your parents was put into this situation. This article would have been a great read for your mom. These are 5 very basic guidelines to follow when going through such a tough situation, and when followed properly, can make the process as painless as possible. Thanks for the post Chris and Keeli!

  • Good advice! This makes me think about the athletic facility I work at. My boss there really needs to read these tips because he fired a friend of mine through via text message. He never knows how to talk face to face, which is completely dumb because he is the boss and should do that. I agree with the fact about talking face to face because that is so important! Great article, and it will for sure come in handy for me in the future! Thank you!

  • I think by keeping a relationship with ex-employees are great, especially when you know he/she has the skills. You never know that in few years time, your ex-employee can be a great asset for you.

  • Felt this was a very good pointed article and makes the task of firing much less daunting, i have worked in retail so far for my employment career and have been around a lot of people being let go, i have yet to fire someone myself but will surely remember what have learned here.

  • Someone who I work with is about to be fired and I have to say that knowing about it ahead of time and seeing them everyday is really hard. I feel for them and wish it didn’t have to happen, but I still can’t help but feel that I’d never be able to do it myself.

  • This is a very interesting article and I think that the overall message being sent through your approach is excellent. Show the people you care about them and it may not necessarily be because they are a bad employee. People have families to take care of and bills to pay just like everyone else. If you proceed in this manner where you are willing to step outside of their expectations by making yourself available as a reference or writing letters of rec, you are really doing them a favor. There have been times where my father has let some closer employees go and I can really tell how it eats away at him sometimes, but that’s where you have to recognize that if you do not take appropriate action, it may end up leading to more layoffs in the end. The respect shown for your employees represented in this article sets an excellent example of how we must act on a professional level and doing such with empathy.

  • Great article. I think the hiring and firing process is a huge part of any company big or small. Currently, I am employed at a bar in the town I go to school in and the firing process there is less than exceptional. For example, an employee who was let go was simply given an email telling him his services were no longer needed. All managers and business owners should read this article.

  • thanks for the post. I think the hiring and firing is the most impotant to a business. This is useful because some day i might have to fire or hire someone. What was your way of hiring someone?

  • Firing people is probably one of the hardest things a manager or business owner would have to do. Thank you for the tips. It gives reassurance to managers that feel nervous and awful for doing this task. Also, it gives some reassurance to employees that some managers know how to fire someone the more compassionate way.

  • Thank you for the tips! I would have to agree that firing employees is the worst part of any job, especially good employees. I wonder if the same can be said for employees leaving companies for others? For example, could these 5 tips be used for an employee who is trying to get out of a situation and move on to a new career? Very interesting and great way to handle the task of having to lay individuals off.

  • Thank you for the tips. This post will be helpful if I ever come across a situation where I have to fire someone. For example, if I become a manager of a company and I have to lay off someone due to budget cuts at least I will have some tips to help handle the situation in a professional manner. I agree with all five of the tips you shared about how to handle letting someone go. I think building a good relationship from the beginning with your workers is important. Then that person know that as the Manger firing them is the last thing they want to do, but must be done in order for the company to survive. It goes to show that as a manager you are loyal to your workers and will only fire them if its a last resort.

  • I personally have never had to fire anyone, but I can imagine it is extremely difficult. I do agree with everything you said about making a personal relationship with your employees and keeping some kind of decent relationship with them afterwords. They always say it’s not what you know, it’s who you know and the people you fire may have an important role in something you need later on in your career and the previous relationship you had with that person could make or break the decision on what you need from them.

  • I agree, because there are numerous of times I have known individuals that have been fired. The relationship was completely ruined afterward because the employer did not take time to build that personal bound. With the feeling of being rejected or the company not caring, people continue with their lives not trusting companies. The cycle continues and there is nothing that the little man in the situation can do about it. Hopefully things begin to change in the firing process where it becomes more professional as opposed to being personal.

  • Another aspect of business that I have never thought of. Thank you for sharing such great tips on dealing with these uncomfortable but not uncommon situations. Knowing it’s coming from your own experiences also add more admiration I have toward you and the thoughtful way you did have had to be done.

  • Thank you for sharing this. I will be going into the management field after I graduate so this is very helpful to me. Having to fire someone is a scary thought. From following these tips, have you maintained relationships with the people you have fired?

  • It’s really interesting to hear how a manager works through the process of laying off people that have been an integral part of the company. Unfortunately, in our economic times, this may happen to good and hard working employees. I hope every manager takes time to follow these important steps when facing this issue.

  • I really enjoyed this article because being fired and firing an employee is never a comfortable situation. I have engraved in my mind point number three because when thrown into that situation a meeting could definitely begin with an awkward nervous preamble which just wastes time and prolongs the agony.

  • This is an awesome post! I agree that when we fired or laid off someone we need to be straight forward. It is much easier for us to laid off people when we go to the point and if I was fired I also want my employee to go to the point

  • Firing people is one of the difficult task of being a leader. It is much more difficult when the employers and the employees have a relationship. I agree with the author to go straight to the point when firing someone. Thank you for sharing the tips!

  • I have never fired anyone but I can definitely see how it can be hard to fire those who have been around for awhile. I find maintaining relationships with those who are fired very interesting and can see how it will help in the future.

  • Although I have never fired someone, and I do not think I will be in the position to do so anytime soon, but I still really enjoyed reading this. I think a lot of people do this the wrong way and it comes back to haunt them because of social media. The most important step you have listed, in my eyes, is number three. A lot of companies teach the “sandwich rule”, but I would prefer to be told upfront what was going on instead of waiting nervously to hear you are being let go.

  • This topic is kind of far from us now because we have not yet establish a company so we do not have chance to fire people yet. But I think his suggestions are useful not only when you are firing somebody in the future but also to maintain healthy relationships with others in social life. Such as meet face in face or keep contact information to keep in touch with each other, etc. These will also help us with our social relationship building.

  • Thanks for sharing the useful tips and your experiences! Firing employees has always been a very sensitive matter that both parties are uncomfortable to deal with.

  • Oh, this topic makes me feel so uneasy. For my Organizational Behavior course recently, we did a case study exercise in which we had to make a layoff decision, and it was one of the most difficult things I had to do (and it was only a case study)!

    I enjoyed reading this article, and thanks for sharing your wisdom. In the end, it’s really about being authentic and genuine in all that you do!

  • Thank you for sharing your article!
    Although I hope this never pertains to me in the future, you gave
    some very useful information on what to do! I could not agree more
    with you on making the employees feel comfortable, and to build that
    great relationship. It probably really does help on making things
    easier for the both of you during the firing process. I really likes
    tip number 3. I hate when people beat around the bush, just say what
    you gotta say and move on! Easy as that. By following all of your
    tips do a great majority of the people you lay off really stay
    connected with you? Or do things just end on good/ok terms?

  • Awesome article! I one day hope to have a company of my own know that firing somebody is inevitable. I usually am not one to get nervous about having to say things to people, especially if it is for my own business. But, these 5 steps really do make sense to follow. You can maintain a relationship, stay respectful, and still help your employees that you fire if you do it in the right context. Something that I really agreed with was getting right to the point. If I was going to be fired I would want to know right away when I walked into the meeting with a manager. Thanks again for sharing this article!

  • Great useful article. I cannot wait to share this with a couple of people i know who are having a heck of a time trying to fire someone. I guess still being in college I haven’t thought a whole lot about being the person to fire someone. But the more I think about it the harder i think it is. I know that firing can be a positive for both parties and like mentioned in the article noone works for the same company their entire life, but I still think that firing is extremely terrifying. How many people have you had to fire in your career?

  • Thank you for your article. I often seeposts about how to launch a new business but rarely read any post like this. Its hard to find employee to fit the organization. And, it’s hard to retain that emplyee with us. However, the hardest part of all is firing one. Thus, learning how to solve this issue well is critical.

  • I can’t tell you how much I love this article! I’ve worked many places that seemed to cower and shy away when letting someone go and that just feels slimy to me. You owe it your employees to let them know why they are being let go and to have enough courage to do it face to face (especially if you are a manager). I wish I could broadcast this across the world.

  • Firing is one of the hardest part for managers in part of their tasks. There are many possible reasons to fire employees, it could be most difficult situation that he is a good employee but our business is not doing well. If I face up to this kind of situation, I might hesitate to talk about it. However, to advance my business, it is necessary skill for managers to convince the person with better reasoning. it was very helpful to know.

  • I honestly never thought about the thought process that goes behind firing someone. Since I’ve never been fired and I don’t foresee myself needed to fire anyone for a long time, it’s good to have this information in the back of my head. I’m sure someday it will become useful to me. Has this process truly improved your relationships with employees you have had to lay off?

  • I wouldn’t know where to begin with firing someone I worked with, but if I ever find myself in that position I will definitely refer to these steps. I haven’t thought about how painfully difficult it must be for a manager to fire fellow employees who are both hardworking and loyal. It must be disappointing to see your company decline so much that it’s impossible to keep every employee that was handpicked to create the perfect team. Thank you for sharing these steps. I feel that we can all benefit from reviewing them, whether we are laying people off or are being the ones laid off.

  • I really like this article, it makes us as employees also realize what the employers go through. Granted I will never run my own company nor have the position to make those decisions on another employees career. I however will be a coach some day or want to be, and it’s basically saying the same thing when you have to cut someone from the team. You have to tell them that everything they have been working for is over. So I did take something out of this article and I thank you very much. I love the get it over with right away throw your cards on the table.

  • This is probably the biggest fear that I have once I get into a job where I can be laid of or where I may need to lay someone off. I have always had that fear for some reason and I really struggle with it today. It is, as you said, essential to fire a employee to keep the company afloat. This is a really hard subject for me as well because of how much of a people person I am. I am usually worried about money or how the company is doing, I am much more worried about what my employees think about me and I feel I would be the one that needed consoling if I were to let someone go. I think the five tips that you gave were right on the money. Establishing a relationship with the person is so essential in my book because I don’t want them to look at me as just a boss that is worried about how the company is doing. What are some tips that you can give a person that is being fired?

  • When it comes to firing people I don’t see myself in that position but I can understand how that would be difficult at a young age. I could never see myself firing people at 24. I agree with the tips given on how to fire people and I believe it would be easier for the people that deserve to be fired. Thanks for the post.

  • I think that this is an outstanding article to read. I have listened to my dad speak to me about this all the time, with being in the corporate world it is all about how you come off to other people. It’s all about being respectful and to have an understanding when someone does something differently then you. When being in the corporate world you need to build bonds between your boss’s, because this will help with your personal work and even the companies work all together. If it comes down to laying someone off, I agree that you should do it in the nicest way possible and the tips you gave were some great advice. Thank you for posting this article.

  • Thank you for your input. I think it is important to fire somebody the correct way because relationships are very important. It’s also a good idea so that people you have fired don’t hate your company. I was once fired over the phone after one week because I didn’t fit in. That was definitely not the correct way to fire somebody.

  • This is a very good article to read! I’ve been wanting to open my own business for years now, and this is one of my biggest concerns. I don’t want to have to fire or layoff anyone because I know how hard it is to make enough money to support yourself or a family these days. I believe that if someone is doing something wrong and has to get fired then I wouldn’t have a problem, but laying people off when they’ve done nothing but good for the company would be very difficult. One question that I have is if you have to choose between laying off two employees that basically have been there the same time and have both given their all to the company how would you pick one to layoff? Thank you for this article.

  • Mr. Yeh, thank you for the article. While I have never been fired, nor had to fire anybody myself I’m sure as I gain more positions of authority in my life, firing someone may be something I have to do. I really like the way you handled firing a person and if I ever do fire someone I hope I could do so the way you did. I believe you have to be honest with the person and tell them why they’re being fired. I also believe that if the person being fired is a good worker and is a likeable person, you should let them know that they can use you on a resume or come to you for support if they ever need it. Have you ever had to fire somebody who’s a great friend of yours?

  • Thanks for this article! Although I have never had to fire anyone, I’m sure as time goes on that is something I may have to encounter. I really like the idea of starting the meeting off with telling them that they have been laid off so you don’t get soft and redirect the conversation.The on thing I wold ask is what are some tips you could give someone that is being fired?

  • I agree with you on both parts of this comment. When you have gained a relationship with your employee it has got to be the worst experience for both people when a firing happens…I wouldn’t know.

  • I agree with all five of the tips that Chris listed in this article. As someone who has never been fired let alone fired someone, I believe that there is a right and a wrong way to let an employee go and how you do it will reflect you as a person as well as your companies reputation

  • Thank you for this great article! I have been working in the restaurant business throughout my high school and college career and have had to let numerous employees go throughout my time. It is never easy, but you have to take on that responsibility as a manager. I have always believed that you should confront your employees face to face when you have to let them go and always exchange contact information especially when you are working in a restaurant. They employee may have been a really hard worker that did a great job, but was let go because of other reasons. This would be beneficial because you may find yourself opening your own restaurant down the road and may want that employee to work for you. I believe that it also shows a sign of respect that the goes down with. A question that I have for you is has this process worked for you?

  • I think this article is incredibly insightful, as many individuals climb the corporate ladder, eventually they are going to have to fire someone under their command. Obviously nobody really wants to fire someone unless they are simply not fitted for the job. What I don’t understand is how are you more upset over letting them go? I understand that you prefer to have a close relationship with your staff but, I feel like if I were losing my job I’d be a little more upset about it.

  • This article is great, thank you for your insight! I feel as though no matter what job you have you’re going to have to fire someone at some point. Both of my parents have had to fire people and it doesn’t have to be horrible, but I don’t necessarily think that every single employee is going to have a great caring relationship. There will always be that one employee that is not going to make this clear and simple. I think having a caring relationship would make it harder to fire those people.

  • Have I almost been fired unexpectedly? No. Will there be a chance in the future that it could happen? Of course. I sure hope this is how I will be fired though. Or even if I have to fire someone, this is how I would have to do it. I am the type of person who hates being sat down and talked to for a long time about pointless stuff when I can clearly see the main point of the talk. Get to the point and we can both be on our way. It is almost like someone feels the need to make up all these excuses, when clearly I see the ending result. Humans are so scared to hurt other’s feelings if they care about them. However, if the person is being fired because they were not cared for and hurt the company, I disagree with this firing. If they put the image of the company in danger or was hurting the company’s atmosphere, there should be no way that they should deserve an explanation of how the company will help them in the future. There is a chance that they would hate the company, but they did it to themselves. So thank you for the proper way to fire someone who doesn’t exactly deserve to be fired if they didn’t do something terrible.

  • Chris, thank you for sharing this article with us with some great insight. I feel if you are the CEO or the boss of a company some point in your career there going to have to fire someone. Both of my parents fire have gotten let go of a job. Even though you want to have a relationship with your employees its just not going to happen yes, some however, there are going to be the ones that don’t get along with there boss or don’t like them. I just have one question at a point do you feel bad letting people go and think what they are going to do to support there family? Thank you again for sharing this article I thought it was inserting.

  • After reading this article, if I become a business owner, I finally feel better about owning a business because lets face it, firing people no matter how strong you are, feels crappy. This clearly gives a good layout to follow when any business owner has to fire an employee, which I completely agree with. Now, if the employee was outrageously awful, then this is a different story.

  • I agree with pretty much all of your reasons stated. This would be a useful article for my father to read, as he is in charge of hiring and firing for his career. I worked for my dad for several years, and after observing some of his relationships with employees, it is apparent that this area could be improved. I doubt that I’ll ever be in a situation where I’m in charge of hiring and firing, but if I am, this advice would be useful. Has the job of letting go of employees become any easier for you?

  • If I end up becoming a business owner I know these tips will become useful and I can only imagine how tough it will be to fire someone that you put trust in to help run your company. One of the main things I will have to remember is that you can find someone that will be able to do the job they did and that it is better for the company that this happens, because sometimes you need to take a step backwards before you can take a step forwards.

  • A lot of this seems like common sense in dealing with people in general. It’s scary to think that there are business owners out there firing their employees in a way that isn’t similar to these 5 steps.

  • I agree with you about being sat down to listen to a long talk when I already know what’s coming. It’s very annoying and sometimes condescending when someone is not able to be upfront with you.

  • Working in the service industry, I see how these steps could apply. At the same time, I feel like these steps can not apply to all types of careers or jobs. It seems as quite a lengthy process to just fire someone. Do you find yourself using these techniques?

  • I disagree. I think that this is an honest and mature approach to firing. Although, I do not think this applies to all companies, careers, jobs etc. It is always important to be upfront with people.

  • I’m a very non confrontational person so if I ever have to fire somebody I’m glade I will have read this so I can comfort them as much as possible, because you don’t know peoples story. That job could be their life and without it they may be lost in the world and feel purpose less.

  • I understand that all jobs are different, but I don’t really understand how employers wouldn’t want to do a majority of these things (specifically numbers 2, 3, and 4). To me, those ones seem like ones you would do if you had any empathy for the person you were firing. I mean, if you really think about it, many times when people are getting fired it’s having a giant impact on their life. Knowing that and being able to fire someone not in person, for example, seems a little cold. Personally I think that these tips are things that we all need to remember. Many of us don’t think of ourselves as the person who is going to have to fire someone someday, but it could happen. Remembering stuff like this can help make being fired more bearable (if bearable at all).

  • I like this article because I feel like many times some of my co-workers should be fired and through reading this article, it puts things more in perceptive for more. This shows there’s more to firing someone than simply firing someone. I’ve thought countless times, how hasn’t this person got fired. I’ve always thought that we’re as disposable as napkins. However, even after reading this I feel that as workers we’re still very disposable at least that’s how I’ve been treated at all my jobs. My question is, have you ever been fired?

  • This article was very helpful to me because, as a Human Resource Management major, I will have to hire and fire people. I like how you said to get to the point because I think everyone feels a bit nervous if randomly being called into an office. Also, I like how you said to give your reasons and explain the situation. My question to you is, do you think you should use the same approach for every person you hire? Maybe there would be more effective ways with different people.

  • I find this to be a very well-rounded informational article. There is something to be said for people that work to have good relationships with co-workers and have respect for others. I think that when delievering a message such as getting “fired or let go” that it is very respectful to deliver the message face to face. In my own experience when I have had to deliver bad news or confront a person about a situation, it always goes better when I have established a good relationship with the person beforehand as talked to them in person. Have you ever had an experience with a person where you had a rocky relationship with them and then you had to delliver bad news to them? How did it go? How did you handle it?

  • I definitely agree that talking face to face is the right thing to do. It is very disrespectful in my opinion to do something like firing someone over email. This also gives a chance to clear up any confusion. It’s also important to tell them if they did something wrong so they can not make the same mistake twice. Have you ever re-hired someone because you could afford to keep them with the company later?

  • I found this article to be hard to understand for someone with no experience with ever having to fire anyone or someone who has not been fired in a job. I have not held any position that is of substantial meaning that I were to be fired. I feel that the tips you laid out are carefully thought about and could be helpful to those who are in their first position of power and are nervous about the process. I understand that it could never be easy to fire someone, but it is vital to make connection with these people and be honest about exactly what is going on in the company. I was wondering how you would go about letting go of someone that you possibly had a bad relationship with? Would you pay extra attention to them once they left the company because of the possible bad reviews?

  • There are definitely industries where it’s hard to do all this. If I’m managing a McDonald’s and turning over my staff twice a year, I probably wouldn’t be quite so thorough.

  • I think most bosses are human, and do feel bad about firing someone. But they usually don’t have a choice–it’s either fire people or shut down the business.

  • I think this is useful advice even for those who don’t “fire” people. For example, as the freshman baseball coach, I had to make cuts at the end of try outs. Many of these tips are beneficial for that situation as well. I am also going into the field of strength and conditioning. With this, eventually, I could be the head of a team of coaches and it will be my job to assemble a staff. These points will come in handy down the road for myself and are just a great set of ideas for everyday conversation and communication skills.

  • This is very useful, especially to keep your relationship as a co-worker other than employer-employee status. Sometimes laying off people will create a hard feeling between friends therefore by showing compassion, explaining it face-to-face, and also keeping in touch may make this “firing” session more tolerable. Fun-fact I learned from one of my management class: the best time for firing a person is on a late afternoon on Friday!

  • I personally have never had to fire someone but I do know people who have. I believe this article can still be helpful if you are never in this position. Even though you may never have to fire someone you will still be put in situations similar to this. I believe it a great idea to make sure you keep a relationship with that person. You never know when the company will turn around and maybe they still need a job and are great workers. Instead of spending your time training someone else they can jump right in. How long did it take you until you found these tips worked the best? Thank you for the great article.

  • Thank you for posting this article! This is valuable to a relative of mine who unfortunately has to take on the responsibility of letting employees know that they are fired. The 5 simple steps provided in this article could certainly help this person because this person has often expressed to me that this is the most difficult part of their job. For example, they once told me that they had to fire one of their better friends within the company. This would be very difficult and I will definitely share this article with them so that these encounters can run as smooth as possible in the future. Chris, would you agree that firing someone you consider a good friend would be the hardest scenario or would you think that makes it easier?

  • This article is really interesting. I always think that the
    word of “fired” always a negative thing. Firing someone means that you want to
    cut the relationship between you and your employee; however, your article
    suggest that firing someone doesn’t mean that you have to cut the relationship
    between you and your employee. If you do firing someone in the right way, you
    could still keep in touch with them because you will never know when you will
    get fall down and you need their help in the future.

  • I enjoyed this article very much. I am always paying attention to keeping things professional. Although I have never been in a situation of having to fire someone or luckily be fired myself, I have thought about the process. I think it is very important to treat the person you are firing as if it were yourself. You don’t want to come off as the all empowered ruler, who is out to ruin this persons life. You just need to make it known that they no longer fit in the plan. You never know who will pop up again later in life, so keeping those contacts is vital. Is there a way to address someone getting fired maybe in a more sensitive way than “we have to let you go”? What would be an appropriate response as the person being fired?

  • Thank you for posting this article! After reading this I kind of find it hard to believe that once you fire someone from their job that they will still keep a good relationship with the employer. Maybe over a long period of time but even then it still is tricky. I do find this article to be very useful though, no matter what laying off someone isn’t easy but it’s a job that needs to be done. Have you ever used these specific tips when it comes to letting someone go?

  • Great article and I can relate this personally. My parents own a business that my grandpa started back in the sixties and a couple years ago they had to let someone go because he was becoming old and kind of rude to the customers. My dad met face to face with him and told him exactly what was going on and why they had to let him go and he took it fine. They all still keep in touch and feelings weren’t hurt.

  • I could imagine firing someone close to the business would be extremely hard. After working at a business for a long period of time, co workers become like family. If the only reason to fire the employee was due to money issues, it could become a very tough break. If the reason of firing is due to other reasons such as they aren’t perfuming their job correctly, it could be different. I enjoy that the author took us through a few things that would help in this situation. I don’t see myself firing anybody anytime soon, as i am just starting in my career, but these steps can still apply. How long did it take for you to become completely comfortable with the firing aspect of your job?

  • This article is enlightening, in that laying people off can be a fairly smooth transition if done properly. My mom was laid off several years ago, after being with the company for 18 years. I forgot what their explanation was, but basically it came down to she was being paid too much for them. So they decided to bring in a “rookie” that they could pay less doing the same work my mom did. So in my mom’s case, I don’t believe step 5 would pertain to her, because the layoff was somewhat a disappointment with their reasoning. They essentially booted her out the door… I completely agree with you that the very first step would be to build relationships with your employees and explain that layoffs from you would only come based on the companies best interest. Face to face is also key! It shows that you do care about that employee. Firing someone over the phone shows that you don’t care about that employee at all, and that they were worthless. Your steps in the article are great! Laying people off can be easier on both parties if followed by your steps. .. Thanks for the post!!

  • I saw the cover of this article and just had to read it. Having Donald Trump on the front is pretty hilarious. I don’t think he knows how to fire someone and keep a relationship with them. But the article has some very good points on how to fire someone and keep in touch just in case. I have never been in the situation where I would need to fire anyone and I have also never been fired. I might look back on this article in the future if I need some help on firing people. Does this really work though? Are people willing to keep in touch with you if you fire them?

  • I agree willie being confrontational is extremely difficult. You never know how someone may react to such a huge decision. Like you said you never know what may be going on in someone else’s life. Letting go of someone who truly needs the position is a major tragedy in ones life. The 5 steps mentioned here are a great way to ease your own mind!

  • This article is very informational because even though I
    haven’t done it I can imagine that firing someone can be one of the hardest
    things to do. I think that following these steps can make it easier for both
    parties. Meeting face to face is a very important step; I think that is the
    most respectable way to fire someone. I also think that if you form a
    relationship with your co-worker then firing them will still be hard, but the
    person getting fired wont take it personally because you know each other on a
    level that isn’t just working. I think that if people follow this guide firing
    people wont be as hard, and you still might be able to have a relationship with
    the person you are firing.

  • Thank you for this very informative article, Chris. Even though many of us hope to never be placed in such a position, it is an important lesson to learn in case we ever are. Firing individuals while maintaining respect for the individual being fired will help maintain important relationships between the individuals themselves as well as for the professional relationships within the business. It is always important to fire an individual accordingly and appropriately, while being careful not to harm the integrity or respect for the business. Being liked by others and having a good reputation about oneself or a business will help the individual or business continue to strive for success. Also, I strongly believe meeting face to face is extremely important and should be done by every employer, while giving the individual being fired personal and constructive feedback on what they did wrong or what they can improve on and being respectful of their wishes or feelings. One never knows when they will need the fired individual again in their life, so firing them respectively and appropriately will always be the key to maintaining those lasting relationships. My question for you is, how long does it usually take for someone to become comfortable with being in the position of firing another employee?

  • Firing a person is never simple as it sounds. I agree with Tip #2, about how we can notify an employee in person instead of breaking the news via text or email, or
    conference call. I couldn’t believe what I learned in supervisor management
    class; I was astounded by how the supervisors broke the news via technology
    instead of in person. That is unethical.

    Chris, thank you for sharing this great article with such good advice. I will remember the tips. 🙂

  • I had a similar experience with my friends dad. He was telling us a story where he had to fire his best friend. His friend was not being productive and not meeting deadlines. He met face to face with him and everything went over fine because they made it about the business and not personal to one another. He said that they are still very close friends and firing him was one of the best but hardest business decisions he ever had to make.

  • Tammy, I agree! I think it would be hard to be let go in person, but I can not imagine someone sending me a text. Unethical for sure.

  • Thanks for this article. This blog gave some great steps to lighten the load of firing someone. I can see how these steps can help someone with this burden. Like you said, it matters how the person is fired. If you fire them in a bad manner they will react negatively compared to the other options. If i every need to fire someone ill be quick to come to these steps. Did you ever fire someone and have it go bad?

  • Thank you for writing this article. I would have to say firing someone is the hardest thing you can do. My parents run a business and my mom always says it is always so hard to fir an individual that you know has put in a ton of work but just aren’t making any progress in their sales. Tip #4 describes mostly what my mom does at her job probably about once every two years. What is the BEST approach to firing someone?

  • That’s awesome that your mom does that for the person that she is letting go, as it shows her compassion for the person. What kind of job does your mom have in order for her to let go of someone every two years? But I just think that the first tip is by far the most important because meeting face to face, especially when firing someone, HAS to happen. It shows the quality of the person firing the individual that they mean business.

  • Although I am not currently facing situation in which I need to fire people quite yet in my career (I am still a student), I still found this advice very valuable. I am the JV volleyball coach at my old high school and I face similar situations when we have to cut girls after tryouts. Although it is great to have so many girls interested in the sport, it is so hard when we have to cut so many young girls. After spending a week mulling over which girls will form the best team you start to get attached to all of them. The girls are high schoolers and therefore are hormonal and impressionable, therefore cuts are the most miserable part of the job. i really enjoy the part about building a caring relationship with everyone, I found that this really made it easier on the girls because they knew we wanted the best for them. Again thanks so much for the advice, I will utilize this during tryouts this year!

  • Although I am not in a position to fire somebody, this was still an interesting and useful read. Being able to keep a healthy relationship with a person you fired can be helpful. Also the 5 step plan how to do it seems like the professional and right way to go about firing someone. It’s not easy to fire somebody and I hope I never have to do it but in reality you might have to. Have you ever fired someone and than regretted it ?

  • When it comes to your first hint of building a caring relationship with your employees, I believe this a good idea and I think that managers that do not do this are stomping out synergy within the workplace and making a major mistake. But how should you juggle making a relationship with your employees and becoming friends? If that relationship gets too close you might start making excuses as to why you are not letting an underperforming employee go. How do you go about walking that fine line?

  • That’s such a good questions Caleb, I to would like to know. I love making friends with everyone, it makes me nervous to start applying for jobs where maybe friendship isn’t necessarily welcomed.

  • It is a pet peeve of mine when someone lies right to my face or beats around the bush. College has honestly taught me to speak up for myself and say what I have to right away. Some people just get so scared by others hating them. In the end, you will hurt people but the people that mean the most and want to be in your life will get over it.

  • Finally an article that gives an outline for the firing process. I’m in school for general management, and this is the one topic which always made me feel uneasy. I liked that the very first point is to build relationships with your employees. I think too often managers only care about getting the job done, and tend to disregard the benefit of knowing and caring for their employees. I’ve found in my work experience that the better the relationship between managers and workers and peers, the more trust their is in an organization and that trust allows the company to be more fluid and function as a team instead of many groups of individuals.

  • The idea of firing someone makes almost everyone uncomfortable, and subsequently no one really talks about it. Knowing how to fire someone is a critical skill, and one that I haven’t been taught yet in school. Thank you for this great outline!

  • Thank you for this article. I wanted to read this article because I was fired from a job that meant a lot to me and I wanted to see if they took the right steps. I was fired over the phone and when asked why I had received no answer. Like you said you owe that to the person to tell them why. Since they didn’t tell me it makes me angry towards them and only tell bad things to people about the company. I don’t know if in my lifetime I will have the opportunity to fire someone but if I do I will take the right steps in doing so because I want to keep that good relationship there unlike hatred that I had. I agree with you that employees deserve that respect when being fired because they helped you create your business and you owe it to them to help them anyway you can! Why do you think some bosses don’t take these steps in firing someone?

  • This is really helpful, because I’m a pretty passive person and have a hard time with stuff like this. The ability to fire someone with poise is essential in the business world, so thank you for this advice!

  • Being a college student myself, I’m not really at a point in my life where I need to fire someone from a work stand point. But I applied this post to the many relationships you gain during your college years. Sometimes you just have to “fire” people from your lives because they are toxic to your happiness and health. I’ve gone through this a few times during my four years in college and since I am a very non-confrontational person, it is definitely not an easy task. But once it is all said and done, I am so much better off and happier then I ever was when I was surrounded by that negative energy.

  • Chris Yeh, thank you so much, this template you gave us, can be used for anything that one has to go through, whether it be personal or business. If you treat people with respect and consideration and most of all empathy, you cant go wrong. Especially if you come from a place of sincerity, they will see it and be very understanding, know this was not an easy decision for you or the company to take. I liked your part about notes, but I wonder if it would not be better to give them a print out and let them go over it. I have found it saves confusion and time during a difficult and challenging time like this. Also, I have found they mentally shut down when they hear the word letting you go or fired! Thanks Again…

  • Thank you Chris! This was a very interesting article to read. I am currently a college student about to graduate this spring. This article does not apply to my life right now, but one day it will. The five steps you explained are very personal and the nicest way you could go about firing someone. When being put in a position like the one you explained I will use these five steps. It is, as you explained, very important to keep a relationship that can add up in value. I really liked the step when you explained exchanging contact information. One question I have is would you only follow these steps when laying someone off? or would you follow these steps for firing someone who was unable to do the job incorrectly and the need to let them go?

  • Firing people is not going to come easy to me if I ever have to do it. In my life plan I hope to follow I will not have to deal with it, but if my path every crosses it, these guidelines are perfect. I love that they are not sympathetic, nor are they inconsiderate of the person on the other end. People must understand that empathy is the best tool you can have and respect is key! Overall, this article is more than appreciated! Great stepping stool for those who need it now, or may need it in the future.

  • Wow this article was very interesting. I feel firing people is always a hard tasks. I think the 5 steps that you mentioned can really make this situation alot more easier. I think my favorite part of the article is the fact that you mentioned meet face to face. I think this is important because it can give a person more of an idea as to why they are being fired. You can also add a certain tone to the process which might lessen the offense of the person. My question for you is when is enough considered enough? What factors determine if a person deserves a second chance?

  • Firing an employee is never easy. A few people have been fired from the place i work. It took a long time to fire both of them and i think that this article could be something very helpful to the leaders who are in charge of firing their employees. The third point made in this article talked about getting right to the point because you’re already nervous about firing them that you need to just get it over with. This is a problem i see with a few bosses at work and i think it is something that could be improved. Thanks for the helpful article.

  • I’ve never been in a position to fire someone, but I can’t imagine it being easy, and it’s probably much harder for the person being fired in most cases. These steps are very well written, and I wish they were followed when I was laid off. I think the most important one is having the manager meeting you face to face. When I was laid off, my manager made one of my fellow employees do it, and it felt like a slap in the face knowing that he felt it wasn’t important enough to make time to do it himself. Explaining what happened is also very important. In my case, the company was losing money, and they had to let people go, so it relieved me to know that because it felt less personal.

  • At my stage in my career Ive never had the opportunity to fire someone and I think no one ever really wants to be but we all know its inevitable before you do. Its a hard thing to do and a difficult one to plan out and how you want to come across doing it.

  • I have never really understood why it is so hard for a business owner or manager to fire someone. I have told my manager and owner of the company I work at to fire some of the employees due to constant problems. It always takes forever for employees to get let go from the business and I could never wrap my head around it. I think this article has really good tips on how to fire someone, you should always meet face to face and get straight to the point so you do not waste anymore time. Meeting face to face is out of respect, I have seen several of my coworkers slowly get their hours cut until they take it upon themselves to leave. It was the businesses way of slowly pushing them out of the door without having to actually fire them. I think meeting face to face allows for the employer to let them know what they did wrong and ways they can improve for future employment jobs. I would highly recommend this article for business owners and managers.

  • I’m not a big CEO or executive but I have had to fire someone on work performance. It was one of the hardest things I have had to do. I don’t know why but I was the one who felt bad even though he was the one letting the team down. Firing is definitely something I don’t want to get good at, even though it is part of the job.

  • I completely agree with Natasha. Being fired face to face is very key. I personally have never been fired or been in a position to fire someone, but I have had to leave jobs and I went to my employer and followed these steps in a backwards manner. I said what I was doing, explained it, and asked to keep in touch. I am still in contact with that employer today. Very good article.

  • Being a sympathetic person myself, I can see how it would be difficult having to fire an employee that you have build a relationship with. I liked that Yeh mentioned that instead of beating around the bush, he lets his employee know right away that they are beging let go. I I know something I do is beat around the bush to make an awkward/bad situation sound “not so bad”, but really just causes more confusion in the end.

  • I thought this was a very interesting article. I have a very hard time telling people bad news so I feel as tough if the situation ever came around where i needed to lay someone off I would not know what to do.

  • I also do the same. I hate giving other bad news. Next time a situation comes where I need to give bad news I will do my best to just say it how it is rather than beat around the bush. I think I would feel a lot better in the long wrong.

  • Thank you for this great article! I have been working in the restaurant business throughout my high school and college career and have had to let numerous employees go throughout my time. It is never easy, but you have to take on that responsibility as a manager. I have always believed that you should confront your employees face to face when you have to let them go and always exchange contact information especially when you are working in a restaurant. They employee may have been a really hard worker that did a great job, but was let go because of other reasons. This would be beneficial because you may find yourself opening your own restaurant down the road and may want that employee to work for you. I believe that it also shows a sign of respect that the goes down with. A question that I have for you is has this process worked for you?

  • His approach to firing employees is amazing! Each point that he made so much sense in how I would want to be fired if I am to be fired for some reason in the future. I really like how he says explanation is important because I would want to know why I am being fired and what I could work on if it was a personal action that I did.

  • I agree that he does do a great job explaining the 5 steps to firing someone. I feel meeting face to face and explaining the situation with the employee are the most important out of all of them. It explains to them how you feel about the situation and shows that this cannot happen in your work place. I thought by far meeting face to face is the most important. Texting or calling someone to say they are fired is 100 percent unprofessional

  • There is multiple ways to fire someone and there is not a single right way. There are many different ways out there but you have to find one that suits you. It is never going to be an easy task to do this and tell someone that they no longer are working for you but you need to find the right way. The way that is explained makes complete sense to me and would be a great and appropriate method

  • I still couldn’t imagine actually having to fire someone. It would definitely be the hardest part of the job. The article does do a great job though of explain things from a boss’s point of view.

  • Being g the bearer of bad news always sucks. I don’t think anyone likes being that person, I feel though if you want to be a good leaser you need to do so.

  • I agree. It is never good to beat around the bush, but it is such an easy thing to do. Goow you find success in giving bad news!

  • Firing someone is always going to be a tough task. Especially if they’re not being fired for doing something wrong but simply because of what’s going on in the company and the fact that you can’t afford to pay them or don’t need their position anymore. I like your approach to it though. I 100% agree with starting the conversation off with them bring laid off. There’s no need to create suspense and make them nervous or anxious. If I am ever int he position where I have to fire someone, I will remember this blog and do the best I can.