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I Want Them Gone: Your Guide to Terminating Employees (The Right Way)

Are you at the point where you find yourself saying “I want them gone”? Here’s the thing – you’re legally obligated to follow certain rules when it comes to firing someone.

Let’s face it, sometimes you just gotta let someone go. Maybe they’re showing up late all the time, missing deadlines, or just not a good fit for the team. Whatever the reason, you know it’s time to make a change. But before you march into their office and shout “YOU’RE FIRED!”, there’s a whole process you need to follow.

First things first, as an employer, there are laws in place to protect both you and the employee. Breaking these laws can land you in hot water, so it’s important to get it right.

Why Can’t I Just Fire Them on the Spot?

There are a few reasons why you can’t just fire someone on the spot. One reason is to make sure it’s fair. Maybe the employee has a good reason for their performance issues, or maybe they just haven’t been given the proper training or support. Following a structured process gives you a chance to document everything and make sure you’re making the right decision.

Another reason is to protect yourself legally. If you fire someone without cause, you can face legal repercussions – and (you guessed it!) that’s not a position you want to find yourself in. Following the proper procedures helps you avoid lawsuits and shows that you were accountable in your decision.

Okay, So How Do I Proceed?

There are a few steps to take when terminating someone’s employment.

  1. Documentation is Key: Start by keeping a record of any performance issues or problems with the employee. This could include emails, written warnings, or notes from meetings where you discussed their performance.
  2. The Talk: Once you have your documentation in order, it’s time to have a conversation with the employee. Explain what the issues are and how they’ve impacted the workplace. Give them a chance to explain their side of the story. (Having difficult conversations is tough! Learn more about cultivating your skills for these conversations in our blog post here.)
  3. The Decision: After the talk, you’ll need to decide what action to take. Maybe additional training is all that’s needed. In some cases, you might decide to terminate their employment.
  4. Termination Meeting: If you’ve decided to let them go, schedule a formal termination meeting. At this meeting, explain your decision and provide them with any severance package they may be entitled to. Severance is basically a payment some companies give to employees who are being laid off or fired. You may also wish to have your HR representative join you on this call to facilitate the conversation.


  • Always be respectful, even if the situation is tense.
  • Don’t share any personal information about the employee with others.
  • If you’re unsure about any part of the process, consult with a lawyer or HR professional.

Firing someone is a tough situation, but by following these steps, you can help ensure it’s done fairly. Remember, the goal isn’t to get rid of someone as fast as possible (though that can sometimes feel like the goal), it’s to make sure the situation is handled professionally and protects everyone involved.

Navigating difficult conversations is hard. Need some extra support? We’re here to help!