14 Entrepreneurs Share Tips On Firing a Team Member

Many will attest that firing an employee or a contractor is one of the hardest decisions you can make in your company. One big challenge that you have to cope with is the emotional aspect that accompanies the process. The remaining team members may also not take it positively depending on how you execute the dismissal. So, when is the right time to dismiss a team member and which is the right way to do it?

We asked entrepreneurs and business owners tips on firing a team member and here are the responses.

#1-  Have proper performance plan

Photo Credit: Fletcher Wimbush

The key is having measurable performance outcomes predefined and then review them with your team member regularly. If you do this both of you will know whether or not their efforts are in line with expectations. If you have not done this then do this first before just laying down the axe. Give them 30 to 60 days under this new well documented performance plan. Visit with them often every week or every other week to review progress. The underperformer will likely fire themselves or at least not be surprised, they will be more likely to leave amicably because you gave them a fair chance.

Thanks to Fletcher Wimbush, Hire Talent!

#2- Several ways

Photo Credit: Robert Farrington

Sadly, finding the right fit for a team member can be difficult. Beyond the tasks of the job, fit in the workplace can also be a big factor. When it comes to letting a team member go, it's never easy. However, the best tip I have that has helped make the process easier is simply being transparent with the team member at all times. Let them know where they stand, tell them that this task or that thing isn't meeting expectations, and ensure that they realize that the consequences are that they might not work here if it continues. I've found that openness, transparency, and communication around  performance are key to ensuring a smooth transition if they day comes when you have to fire them. It's much easier to have a conversation where you say, Remember our previous conversations around this topic… It's also important to realize that because a person is failing at their job, doesn't make them a bad person. Sometimes as managers, we wait too long, become so frustrated, that we suddenly think because the work isn't good, they as a person aren't good. I also try to make it clear that although the work didn't meet performance expectations, they aren't a bad person. They just aren't the right fit for the job. As a result, while terminations are never fun, almost all of the terminations I've handled have gone smoothly and respectfully.

Thanks to Robert Farrington,!

#3-  Simple and unemotional steps

Photo Credit: Dr. Robin Burk

Be clear as to why you are firing this person. Get it down to a simple sentence you can back up with details – but don't get sucked into debating them during the firing notification. Be the one to inform the rest of the team. Your simple sentence will be the important part. Then let your team know next steps. Will you be: starting a search for a new employee? Filling the gap with an existing employee who will be reassigned (temporary or permanent?)? How will this impact your remaining team members? Existing projects? It's your job to reduce understandable anxiety about their job security and workload, so: Keep it simple, and unemotional. Bottom line: this was not workable/sustainable and it wouldn't be fair to the company/ department/team/customers if the firee had been allowed to continue on the team.

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Thanks to Dr. Robin Burk,  Check Your Connections!

#4- First ask yourself a few questions

Photo Credit: Dr. Kim Turnage and Larry Sternberg

Firing someone is one of the most difficult conversations most managers will ever have. There is no approach or technique to remove the pain involved in firing a team member. Ask yourself these questions to determine if it’s time to fire someone: Have you taught, coached and given the person ample time to learn and opportunities to succeed? Has he tried his best? Does the role require behaviors that are not in the person’s repertoire? Do you believe that additional efforts will turn the situation around?  When someone is failing, that person almost always knows it before you do. It is not caring to allow someone to stay in a role that is not a good fit, a role in which he or she cannot achieve success. When it’s time to have the difficult conversation: Get right to the point. Don’t start off with small talk. Don’t delay the inevitable. Briefly review your expectations and the shortfalls in performance. Focus on the facts. Tell the person clearly and directly that they will have to leave the organization. Explain the details of the separation process. Answer any questions.  End the conversation.

Thanks to Dr. Kim Turnage and Larry Sternberg, Managing to Make A Difference!

#5- Be direct, and honest

Photo Credit: Bob Clary

The more clear you are about the situations they did not handle appropriately, or deliverables and timelines that were not met, the less likely they will walk away without an understanding of they got there. Being direct and honest with employees is good policy in the good times, and should be for the other times as well.

Thanks to Bob Clary, DevelopIntelligence!

#6- Do it the first time you think of it

Photo Credit: Anne Miner

The first time this thought passes through your mind, I need to fire that person, do it! Do not delay, do not invest in further coaching, training, equipment or resources. You have already invested in recruiting, hiring, onboarding and engaging … rarely do we get to the I need to fire that person until we have invested in their success and it is not happening. If you continue to invest, you become the owner of the problem and guilt, shame, remorse will drag you down. You do not have to have a reason, you can pay out the required notice/severance and disengage immediately. Be prepared with the necessary paperwork and all decisions made (e.g., effective date, payout, conditions). Ideally, meet the individual face-to-face. Do NOT smile. Next best option is by phone. Tell the individual that you are terminating the relationship. Tell them when it is effective. Tell them what compensation they will receive and when. Tell them what you expect of them. Provide written confirmation of all of these points. You may or may not wish to have a witness with you or record the call. If effective immediately, request the immediate return of keys and de-activate all logins/pass codes. Escort the candidate to their office to gather their personal belongings and walk them to the door (this may not be necessary depending on the individual). Advise the rest of your team that you have parted company and that you wish the candidate well. Take a deep breath and release the stress!

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Thanks to Anne Miner, The Dunvegan Group!

#7- Involve another colleague

Photo Credit:  Cristian Rennella

When you go to dismiss a member of your team, ALWAYS remember a very important point in which I personally made a mistake the first time: *take another work colleague to witness any inconvenience that may arise in this situation*.  Firing someone generates a delicate and tense moment where unexpected reactions can often arise. That is why the fact that there is another person in the meeting helps in case of any dispute, there is always a witness who can share what really happened (who said what, who raised the voice, who responded inappropriately, etc.). In 95% of cases, nothing happens, but it is good to be covered before the 5% chance that an unexpected situation will happen.

Thanks to Cristian Rennella, CotizarSeguro!

#8- Remember a few things

Photo Credit: Dr. Alex Roher M.D

When I fire an employee, it means that I've almost given them enough chances to prove themselves. If I think that they are no longer contributing to the growth of the company, then it is time to let them go. It's already a given that these situations are hard to handle, but the trick here is to make them understand why they are being fired, which is also backed up by proper documentation and proof of their poor behavior in the office. I would suggest that employers should still handle the situation delicately, as employees can spread anything they find insulting. It would be best to handle this professionally and still acknowledge the fact that they are good people with great skill and expertise, just not the right to your company's need.

Thanks to Dr. Alex Roher M.D., San Diego Medical Spa Inc!

#9- Don't be emotional and make them understand your reason for firing

Photo Credit: Brad M. Shaw

In my experience, firing an employee is never an easy task. But I do believe that if they are no longer contributing to the business and they constantly make excuses for their behavior around the office, then it is time for you to fire them. The trick with firing employees is to not make them feel the need to resent you for your decision. The best way to do this is by explaining your reasons for firing them and helping them understand. It's best to never get your emotions involved in these kinds of situations because it can lead to bigger problems. Be as professional and polite as you can be, so they don't feel bad about being fired.

Thanks to Brad M. Shaw, Dallas Web Design Inc!

#10- Do it quickly for the sake of the company's growth

Photo Credit: Dr. Ty Belknap

Firing someone is a difficult decision, but the reason to fire is a person rarely a spur of the moment thing. Chances are, many instances have already happened, and the person is probably a toxic element in the team. When it is decided to fire a person, do it quickly. Growth cannot happen in a toxic environment, and if you have decided to fire a person then the rest of the team already knows this person is toxic. The longer the person is allowed to stay in the team, the more poison that person will spread.

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Thanks to Dr. Ty Belknap, MyCoach.Life!

#11- Always remember, firing someone is a *business* decision, not a personal one

Photo Credit: Jeff Roberts

The quicker you can remove emotions from this critical process, the better it will go for you *and* the person you're firing. The same way a person leaving your company to pursue a better career opportunity is making a business decision, you should be making your decision to fire someone based on the likelihood they can impact and even impede you from meeting your business goals. It's that simple. Don't overcomplicate it.

Thanks to Jeff Roberts, Olive & Company!

#12-Compliment sandwich method

Firing someone in your team is never an easy task, especially if the person is in dire need of a job to sustain for financial constraints. But if you were to put your personal emotions into ysee wour business decision, you will won't be able to forsee what's good for the growth of your company. In my company, I handle these situations delicately so I use a method called the compliment sandwhich. It is a way for me to make the employee feel no guilt or recentment towards me as their employer, but at the same time allow them to leave with an open mind. It works by first delivering some good news, move on to the bad news, then replaced by another piece of good news. Here is an example Hi Jonas, we appreciate that you have worked hard in keeping our business successful these last few months, however, we have seen no improvement in your work. We have made the difficult decision of letting you go, as we think your skills and expertise do not fit well with our work requirements. We do thank you for the 1 year you have been employed with the company, and we would be happy to pass you on to someone who is need of your skills. We can put in a good word for you.

Thanks to Jason Perkins, San Diego SEO Firm!

#13- Explain the reasons

Photo Credit: Kershan Bulsara

No one likes the firing process, not the employee nor the employer. The best way to go about this difficult situation is to highlight the reasons the employee should be let go and explain the reasons respectfully and professionally to the employee. If it's due to reasons out of the employee's control (last hired first fired for example), be sure to thank them for their services and try to see if you can help them acquire a new job by writing a recommendation letter that explains the situation. If the termination is due to other circumstances, such as a lack of professionalism, then be sure to stay professional and to inform them on those reasons so that the employee can learn from their mistakes for their future employment.

Thanks to Kershan Bulsara, Roofmaster!

#14- Communicate the right way

Photo Credit: Ruchit Garg

Firing someone is tough decision at personal level but as CEO of company you need to do things which you think are right for the company. Just be respectful in communicating decision, share the reasons behind this decision and where possible (and applicable) help candidate in finding their next job. Do the right thing!

Thanks to Ruchit Garg, Harvesting Inc!

Which are the tips on firing a team member? Tell us in the comments below

Mercy - CBNation Team

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(, podcasts, ( and videos ( CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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