7 Keys to Firing Fair

Sometimes as managers of any field we reach a point with an employee that we are out of resources to truly help them succeed.  Their progress and motivation is not there despite our endless efforts of encouragement, and repetitive training.  Let’s face it some people are just not made for some jobs, this does not make them talentless or failures, just misplaced.  We must always make sure that termination is a last resort, in a field with such a high turnover it is easy to feel wrapped up in the termination hype.

When I was a new manager, other managers would discuss terminating employees as if it were a sign that they were doing their job, as if, if you didn’t terminate someone at least once a quarter you were not performing as you should.  This made me feel very self-conscious as I had a great team, they were all coachable and amazingly receptive. As an ex-teacher, I instead felt as if it reflected poorly on myself if I had to terminate one of mine, as if I had left my child behind. (okay so maybe that was a little cheesy)

“As a store manager, the failure of one of your staff is comprised of your investment of the individual.” -Richard Bell Coaching, Training & Developing The Retail Manager

1.  Make sure you have documented all conversations for employee improvement, and the results.

2.  Take a moment or two before the termination to physically list the actual strengths and weaknesses of this employee; if they are not a people person but a real hard worker perhaps they would do better in an office setting.  If they are quieter but amazingly fast at a cash wrap, perhaps they would succeed better as a cashier in big box or at the local grocer.  (If you haven’t found any strengths in this employee then possibly you have not worked with them enough one-on-one to be taking this drastic step).

3.  Take their strengths list and find three possible employment opportunities they could pursue on craigslist or on the want ads.

4.  Respect the employee’s pride, assure the termination is completed in private (aside form one [manager level] witness) behind closed doors without the knowledge of peers.   Also wait for their shift, do not call in an employee to fire them.

5.  Never apologize for your decision. Never blame a higher ranking supervisor for this decision, that is dishonest and unfair.  Own your decision to conclude their time with your company.

6.  Be factual, and don’t beat around the bush.  “Chris, your performance has been slacking.  As you can see here you have missed your goals for the past six consecutive weeks, and despite these three conferences we have had and our efforts in training, you just continue to remain static as an employee, so as of today you will be terminated for employment.  I do think you have some amazing strengths, and I have found three other jobs that I feel will play to these.  You are free to apply to these, and if you need a referral letter to your strengths please let me know.” (Or you could have a referral letter ready).

7.  Do not sit around for conversation, or pleading.  Have them sign off on their termination, return their keys and any other items that belong to the company and escort them off the property.  Leave them with a handshake, and wish them a successful future.

A good read to help us remember why we should fire fair:


Photo by: gunnar3000

7 thoughts on “7 Keys to Firing Fair

  1. When I make it big one-day selling women’s underwear I am going to make sure to hire you to be my manager! I’ll let you handle the dirty work when Kendra starts five finger discounting our Egyptian cotton line of undergarments!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Firing somebody is the hardest thing a manager has to do – I’m so glad I don’t have that responsibility! Your 7 points sound very fair though. To me, I think that once an employee has their first/second “warning” it may be time to look around for a different job altogether before they get fired – it eases the burden of the manager having to fire them; saves them from the embarrassment of being sacked; and allows them to revaluate their skills.

    Liked by 1 person

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