Don’t let the door hit you on your way out is not the last thing you want to say to an employee or temp you are going to let go. We’ve probably all had to do it, and it’s never pleasant and rarely easy, but you can tell someone they won’t be working for you anymore without being a jerk.

There’s also that not so little subject of litigation, so you should definitely do some planning and be mindful and deliberate about how you go about it.

Don’t delegate.

Whether you hired this person, or merely inherited them, this isn’t something you can delegate. Plan to spend 15 minutes with them and give them some details and let them hang on to their dignity.

Be prepared.

When you do sit down with this person, you should have a record and documentation showing that you have a system in place that measures performance, and that they were given ample warnings they weren’t measuring up. If you have done your job up to this point, the actual termination really shouldn’t come as that big of a surprise to them.

Be firm.

If this person needs to go for the sake of your business, or your client’s, then that’s just the way it goes. You can feel bad, but don’t be made to feel guilty and get talked into giving them another chance, or falling for a hard luck story. If this was important to them in the first place, they should have been more diligent about their performance.

Get professional advice.

Working with an attorney to create formal termination letters with exact wording costs a little up front, but it could save you a lot more on the other end in case the termination does get contested in any way.


Office keys, cards, and/or anything else the person may be in possession of that really belongs to your company.

Don’t do it alone.

An HR professional or some other officer of the company should be present in the room for the termination proceedings, to act as a witness, and to fend off possible hatchet attacks.

Be professional and stay on the high road.

Angst and anger have no place in this process, so don’t get into any kind of a pissing match with the outgoing worker. Be nice and gracious while telling them not to come back, and give them a chance to ask questions, even if all they want to do is question your judgment.

Do show them the door – literally.

This is no joke. The day of the termination meeting should be their last in the office. Having a terminated worker hang around is not good for anything and they need to be gone.
Firing someone isn’t something those of us with a heart want to get too good at, but having a plan can help avoid ugly backlash and expensive lawsuits.

Tags: Advice, Business, Fired, Termination