HOW TO FIRE SOMEONE NICELY: Overcome A Manager’s Biggest Fear

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Table of Contents Hide
  1. How to Fire Someone Nicely
    1. #1. Voice Early Issues. 
    2. #2. Be Patient With Yourself 
    3. #3. Practice
    4. #4. Bring a Witness  
    5. #5. Be Precise, and Professional 
    6. #6. Be Strong. 
    7. #7. Stay Emotionally Stable. 
    8. #8. Give Them Some Time. 
    9. #9. Include the HR’s Phone Number and Email Address.
    10. #10. Permit a Final Farewell. 
    11. #11. Consider the Ending. 
    12. Common Grounds for Termination
  2. How to Fire Someone Nicely Template
    1. How to Fire Someone Nicely: Letter of Termination Sample
  3. How to Fire Someone Nicely Over the Phone
    1. #1. Keep HR Up to Date
    2. #2. Agree on a Precise Time for the Call With the Employee.
    3. #3. Inform Them of Their Termination at the Beginning of the Call.
    4. #4. State the Violation’s Specific Cause and Reference the Relevant Sections of Your Employee Handbook or Policies.
    5. #5. Avoid Getting Caught up in the Details
    6. #6. Be Concise But Clear.
    7. #7. Pay Attention to Criticism
    8. #8. Give Them Any Papers That are Required.
    9. #9. Even if They Aren’t, Be Gracious and Polite.
  4. How to Terminate an Employee for Poor Performance
    1. #1. Examining a Poor Performance
    2. #2. Providing the Worker With the Opportunity to Develop
    3. #3. Briefings for Weak Performance
    4. #4. The Dismissal Decision
  5. What to Say When Terminating an Employee
    1. #1. Not a Perfect Candidate
    2. #2. Layoffs
    3. #5. Performance Issues
    4. #6. No-showing
    5. How to Fire Someone Nicely: What to Say to Your Colleagues Following a Termination
  6. What Do You Say When Firing Someone?
  7. How Do You Say Fire Nicely?
  8. How Do You Fire Someone Who Is Not a Good Fit?
  9. How Do You Fire Someone Calmly?
  10. What Are Valid Reasons to Fire Someone?
  11. How Do You Write a Firing Message?
  12. Can You Fire Someone without Telling Them Why?
  13. Related Article

Sadly, as a business owner, you are faced with the prospect of terminating an employee whose performance isn’t up to par. You want to get through this talk without trying to harm them since it won’t be an easy one. Here’s how to have that conversation while preserving your (ex-employees) respectability. In this post, we will look at how you can fire or terminate your employee nicely due to his or her poor performance, even over the phone, and also a template showing what and how to say things to avoid hurting them emotionally.

How to Fire Someone Nicely

To fire someone implies terminating their contract with your company as a result of their behavior or competence. On the other hand, letting someone go suggests you’re firing the worker because they really do not fit in, there isn’t enough work, or their position has changed. Whether or not the employee may influence the cause of their termination, determines how these phrases differ.

It’s crucial to let someone go in a respectful manner. You can only imagine how hurtful being fired is for them because they also have feelings. Additionally, they might not have committed any crimes in some situations. You also don’t want to jeopardize the standing of your business. If you follow these recommendations, you can fire someone nicely:

#1. Voice Early Issues. 

The first action to take when you want to fire someone nicely is to give the employee the chance to improve when it comes to performance and behavior (with the exception of extreme circumstances, of course!). When there is no improvement, talk about the issue, give them criticism and the resources to address it, and then consider terminating them.

#2. Be Patient With Yourself 

Set aside 15 minutes to personally inform the employee of their termination. For more privacy, some people want to be fired on Fridays at the conclusion of the workday. Some people would rather have the chat on Monday morning, so they won’t have to worry about it all day and the former employee can get started looking for a new job straight away.

#3. Practice

To fire someone nicely, you need to practice your speech in advance, especially the part when you explain why you’re terminating the employee. You can’t just wing it in this talk, especially when saying the incorrect thing could endanger your firm. Additionally, practicing will prevent you from freezing up and help you feel less anxious before the encounter.

#4. Bring a Witness  

This is one of the best things to do when you want to fire someone nicely. Bring one person into the meeting instead of firing them in front of the entire staff. This provides you with an unbiased third party, which is crucial if the discussion becomes heated or the sacked employee later files a lawsuit.

#5. Be Precise, and Professional 

Without utilizing a lot of extra words or small talk, inform the employee that you are firing them and explain why right away. Declare that the professional relationship is over, describe what will happen next, and deliver the required documents. The worst thing you can do when you want to fire someone nicely is to leave the person in the dark about their employment status.

#6. Be Strong. 

Since nobody believes they should be fired, the employee may become offended or want a second chance. Don’t allow others to influence your choice when you need to nicely fire someone. It’s in the best interest of both your team and your company. Just keep saying that the choice is definitive and keep doing it until you feel like it has sunk in.

#7. Stay Emotionally Stable. 

Allow the fired employee to express their feelings by listening to them, but avoid becoming emotionally involved. Also, refrain from using clichés like “I know how you feel” and “I’ve been in your shoes before.” Those statements aren’t particularly consoling to someone who has just had a terrible day; they primarily benefit the individuals uttering them. One way to fire someone nicely without getting emotionally attached is to be stable for yourself.

#8. Give Them Some Time. 

The employee hasn’t had the opportunity to practice this interaction with you, but you have. Give them 48 hours to consider their options and to get in touch if they have any queries. Instead of having to elaborate on every aspect of their exit interview, they can go home and assimilate the material this way. It can also assist in calming any rage.

#9. Include the HR’s Phone Number and Email Address.

Have included the HR representative’s contact information toward the letter’s conclusion so the employee can reach out to them with any questions. If distinct HR tasks are handled by a number of persons, list each person and the tasks they are responsible for.

#10. Permit a Final Farewell. 

Depending on how the termination meeting went, you can determine whether or not you want to give the former employee a chance to say goodbye to their coworkers. (If it didn’t go well, they might use this as a chance to discredit you in front of the whole team.) It’s okay if they decide not to take advantage of that chance. Permission of a final farewell by the employee you fire nicely is a good way to show humility to your other workers.

#11. Consider the Ending. 

Consider why the employee failed to click. Is it time to review how you do interviews? Do you require better guidelines or instruction? Or you can discover that, based on the facts you had, you made the correct decision, but it didn’t turn out as you had hoped. Don’t be too hard on yourself; it happens.

Common Grounds for Termination

There are numerous reasons why an employer would nicely and gently fire a worker. In most situations, the employer must adhere to specific procedures or standards to ensure that the dismissal is fair; otherwise, it may be contested in court.

#1. Lack of Performance

The most obvious (and arguably fairest) explanation would likely be a worker’s inability to perform their duties effectively. Poor performance may result from a variety of factors, including a failure to develop the necessary degree of skill or even a poor rapport with coworkers and managers. The employer must always give fair notice and a reasonable opportunity to improve before they can proceed with terminating the employee, regardless of whether they believe the subpar performance is intentional or not.

#2. Bad Behavior

Bad behavior is another common ground for firing someone, but you need to do it nicely. This could be something like consistently arriving late for work or failing to adhere to workplace policies. In such circumstances, the employer would often be compelled to issue a second early warning and provide an opportunity to improve. They would only be permitted to fire the employee if the wrongdoing persisted. Gross misconduct, such as theft, assault, or unlawful activities, is an exception to this rule and may be cause for immediate dismissal.

#3. Long-Term Illness

Long-term illness might be a legitimate basis to fire an employee, but only if it has nothing to do with a handicap and only after you’ve tried to make reasonable accommodations to let the employee keep working.

#4. Restructuring

Restructuring situations, where the company needs to cut its personnel, can also result in dismissal.  These methods are subject to unique rules.

How to Fire Someone Nicely Template

Looking for how to write a letter to an employee you want to fire nicely, here is a template for you:

Here is a short sample of a termination letter:


Dear [Name of Employee],

With effect from [date of termination], your employment with [name of firm] is being formally terminated, as stated in this letter.

Due to the following factors, the employer has chosen to terminate the employment:

[Include the grounds for termination here]

Be aware that the choice is irrevocable and final.

You may be eligible for the following advantages: [Include a list of the employee’s pay and additional benefits] and What would happen to the employee’s health insurance plan?

Please send back [list the products to be returned] by [date] at the latest.

Please be aware that even after you stop working for the company, the following agreements remain in effect [Include the contracts and pertinent terms]

If you have any inquiries about your pay, benefits, or insurance, kindly get in touch with [name, email, and phone number of the contact person].



(Your name)

How to Fire Someone Nicely: Letter of Termination Sample

To assist you in creating one, below is a sample termination letter:

12 January 2023

Greetings, Dave Sigmond

We regret to tell you that, as of January 12, 2023, your job with Kent Developers has been terminated.

Due to a lack of construction-related projects, the company has been having financial problems for the past 18 months. We came to the decision to downsize the personnel after considering several ways to strengthen the company’s revenue sources. We regret to inform you that this decrease includes your position as a field marketing executive.

Keep in mind that the choice is final.

Following your final day of employment with the organization, you would be paid for the current month. Any unused leaves would likewise be yours to cash in.

Your company’s health insurance plan would stay in effect until 31 January 2024.

On your final day of employment with the company, kindly make sure to return the company laptop and ID.

Please be aware that even after you leave the company, the non-disclosure agreement you signed when you first joined will still be in effect. I have included a copy of the stated deal for your records.

For questions about your final settlement and any relevant matters, please contact the HR department.

We appreciate your input and wish you well in your further endeavors.

Sincere regards,

[Signature] [Name]

How to Fire Someone Nicely Over the Phone

Have human resources (HR) or another manager verbally record the call if you want to fire an employee over the phone. So that the witness may hear both sides of the conversation, put the phone on speaker. Do not engage in theatrics or allow them to debate; instead, stick to the facts and make it plain why they are being fired.

The time for back-and-forth debate has already passed by the time you decide to terminate an employee due to poor performance, provided you’ve done your job appropriately. Thus, the discussion must be succinct and limited to the facts.

Here is more information on the actions listed above:

#1. Keep HR Up to Date

Contact your HR department if you have one and let them know what is going on.

They can work with IT to ensure that access to the company’s systems is terminated, compute severance compensation and/or final pay, and gather any required documentation.

#2. Agree on a Precise Time for the Call With the Employee.

Make sure HR or at least 1 witness (someone in a senior position) is present when you schedule a phone conversation or, ideally, a video conference with the employee.

#3. Inform Them of Their Termination at the Beginning of the Call.

Be upfront about your intentions and begin with the negative news. You inform the employee that the company has made the decision to part ways as soon as possible. Too much pre-fire conversation might be misleading and confusing. You need to make it abundantly obvious to them that they are being fired.

#4. State the Violation’s Specific Cause and Reference the Relevant Sections of Your Employee Handbook or Policies.

Cite the justification for the dismissal. There should be evidence, regardless of whether they were let go for excessive absences, breaking corporate rules, or any other cause. Although they will be hurt and disappointed, your employee shouldn’t be shocked that they’re being fired. Both the termination and all prior infractions should have good documentation.

#5. Avoid Getting Caught up in the Details

Yes, you should be specific in your justifications for terminating your employee, but the point is not to antagonize them. Be succinct.

#6. Be Concise But Clear.

Avoid arguing or listing your numerous failures. Answer questions, but avoid argumentation. Reiterate your argument and make it obvious that you no longer require their services.

After all, the choice has already been taken and the window for discussion has closed by the time you get to this point. Typically, firing should last no longer than 10 minutes.

#7. Pay Attention to Criticism

There may undoubtedly be some comments from your staff. As long as it’s not just complaining or making excuses, some of it is acceptable. Pay attention to what they are saying and pay attention, but not for too long. Perhaps there was something you might have done differently when they were working for you. If so, make the necessary adjustments.

#8. Give Them Any Papers That are Required.

They might need to sign documentation relating to COBRA or termination. As soon as the meeting is over, send them this through email.

#9. Even if They Aren’t, Be Gracious and Polite.

Lastly, express gratitude for their assistance. While you shouldn’t apologize, you should express how you wish things had gone differently. Avoid the temptation to return it to them if they get aggressive.

How to Terminate an Employee for Poor Performance

Any business may find it challenging to fire an employee for subpar work. When deciding how to terminate an employee for poor performance, an employer must demonstrate that it did so with a reasonable belief in the person’s performance. Therefore, there must be proof of poor performance; otherwise, it will be difficult for the employer to demonstrate that its justifications to terminate the employee’s job are sound.

Therefore, an employer must ensure that instances of poor performance are thoroughly documented in the form of written evaluations, performance reviews, and performance improvement plans (PIPs), as well as proof that a formal capability system was followed. Below are the steps to take on how to terminate an employee because of poor performance.

#1. Examining a Poor Performance

According to the Acas Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures, an employer is required to conduct an investigation, communicate the results to the employee, and provide them a chance to comment. This may entail speaking with the employee and asking them to remark on the compiled evidence, such as:

  • A valid employment agreement and job description
  • Records of training
  • Performance evaluations
  • Employee manuals or operational guidelines
  • Prior performance improvement strategy

The employer will need to take into account any underlying factors that the investigation may indicate contributed to the employee’s subpar performance. For instance, any problems that might be the fault of the employer, like inadequate line management or a lack of training, should be addressed. Similarly to this, any illness or medical condition should be further researched in case the employer needs to think about providing accommodations for a disability.

#2. Providing the Worker With the Opportunity to Develop

Except in cases of egregious negligence or when an employee is still on probation, the ACAS Code advises that at least two warnings be provided before a person is let go for performing poorly.

How Long Should it Take for Improvements to Occur?

The situation and the appropriate role will determine how much time is needed. If a capability method specifies a timeframe for improvement, that timeframe should be adhered to.

The quality and length of the employee’s prior employment, as well as the severity of the underperformance, may be important considerations in the absence of timeframes specified in a capacity method. The focus of the tribunals will be on what was reasonable under all the circumstances.

Employers may find it beneficial to tie the timeline to a regular phase of the business cycle, such as a quarterly sales target period.

Guidance or Instruction

The firing may be unfair if enough help or training were not provided.

Evaluating Development

If the employer has informed the employee that their performance will be tracked and discussed, it will be crucial for the employer to maintain track of the review period because failing to do so is likely to be seen as unreasonable.

#3. Briefings for Weak Performance

If the employee doesn’t make enough progress, a formal meeting should be scheduled. The following things should be communicated to the employee in writing:

  • The problems or weaknesses in their performance.
  • When, where, and how long will the capabilities meeting last?
  • A synopsis of pertinent data and any related documents.
  • The process that must be used
  • The potential repercussions are great if performance is discovered to have fallen short of the necessary standard.
  • The right to be accompanied by a union representative or a coworker

The briefings must take place without undue delay, but they must also provide the employee with enough time to prepare their testimony. The employer must adhere to any applicable internal timeliness procedures. The meeting objectives are to:

  • Allow both the employer and the employee to properly present their cases.
  • Give the worker a chance to comment and offer an explanation for the concerns highlighted regarding their performance.
  • Investigate and determine what led to the low performance.
  • Identify the corrective steps that can be implemented.
  • Obtain the employee’s pledge to meet the necessary standard.
  • Determine a time frame that will allow the employee to meet that requirement.
  • Decide on a monitoring system for that time frame.
  • If those criteria are not fulfilled, explain to the employee that they risk receiving additional warnings or being fired.

The outcome of this meeting, the employee’s right to appeal, and any time restrictions that could be relevant should all be communicated to them in writing.

#4. The Dismissal Decision

The employer may feel forced to terminate the employee if they have received a fair warning, adequate opportunity to change, training, support, and other necessary adjustments but have still failed to demonstrate improvement, thereby having a poor performance.

Before deciding to fire an employee, an employer should ideally take into account finding them new work or demoting them. Finally, the employee should be let go with notice and given the opportunity to appeal.

What to Say When Terminating an Employee

Make sure you are able to express your rationale for terminating someone clearly because you will need to do so to your former employee. Here are some reasons you might want to fire an employee go, along with some tips on how to do it nicely:

#1. Not a Perfect Candidate

Oftentimes, workers are simply the wrong fit. They lack the talents you require, their performance is adequate but could be better, or you can see their potential but they can’t realize it with you.

In this situation, you are not letting someone go because they don’t fit the job description. They don’t agree with the company, and you don’t agree with them, so you’re allowing them to go. Both of you will benefit if you split ways right away and look for opportunities that better suit your needs. How to use words in terminating an employee who is not a good fit is as follows:

What to Say When Terminating an Employee Who Doesn’t Fit in:

“I’m letting you go because this isn’t working out. We’re terminating this work connection because it’s not a good match, and I realize that you have questions and are probably surprised. Despite being difficult, our choice is final. Therefore, since talking about why won’t change the situation, being silent now is the most fruitful course of action.

#2. Layoffs

You can find yourself in a challenging circumstance where you don’t have enough clients or revenue to support the workforce you have. You must therefore let someone go as a result.

It’s possible that this employee didn’t do anything illegal. They were merely the newest or least productive members of your team, and you need to make decisions on which workers to keep in line with your priorities. A little kindness goes a long way because the reason for termination is out of the employee’s control. When you’re shrinking, use these tips for terminating an employee politely:

What to Say When Terminating an Employee During Layoffs:

“It pains me to say it, but I must let you go. Over the past few months, the amount of work has decreased significantly. The financial health of the company has declined, and we are unable to continue using our current staff. You are among the individuals I am firing since I can only keep a small number of our top performers.

#3. Poor Behavior

It’s hardly professional behavior from your employee. They could act disrespectfully toward you and your clients or just overall have a lousy attitude. Your clients or other staff members may have complained about whatever they are doing. Productivity is declining, and the company reputation you fought so hard to establish is suffering. You might also be able to work with them to correct this behavior if it is unusual. But if it continues, you must fire them so as not to jeopardize your company.

What to Say When Terminating an Employee for Bad Behavior:

“I had hoped it wouldn’t, but I have to let you go. You’ve been disrespectful to me, your staff, and your clients, and I’ve heard way too many complaints about how you handle yourself. That activity cannot be connected to my business any longer. Your last day is today.

If an employee engages in violent behavior, harassment, theft, forgery, sharing of confidential information, lying on their application for a job, or other more serious unlawful action, you may need to fire them. This kind of activity could entail law enforcement in addition to being bad behavior. Before firing the employee, make sure to document everything because you’ll need proof of what they did.

The last thing you want to do is be kind when you’re terminating an employee for legal reasons. Nevertheless, it’s a good idea to maintain your composure and refrain from saying anything that might later land you in trouble. Do this:

“I’m firing you because you used the business credit card for personal expenses. Your usage of the card at a clothes retailer is shown in a statement I have from the card issuer. We have a policy in our handbook against using corporate property for personal use, and when I recruited you, you signed the form acknowledging that you had read the policy. “I was quite explicit about the repercussions of violating that rule. You must get your possessions and depart.

#5. Performance Issues

An underperforming worker might take many different forms. They could consistently arrive late for work, take lengthy breaks, disregard conventional operating procedures, or perform duties improperly. You should always attempt to solve these issues since you can in some cases. After-visit quality inspections, different training techniques, accommodations, and performance bonuses and incentives can all be helpful.

But in other instances, the worker simply isn’t getting better. It’s time to part ways because you can’t keep investing time and energy in overseeing their performance. When you’re laying off, use these tips for terminating an employee politely:

What to Say When Terminating an Employee for Poor Work:

“I’m sorry to announce I have to let you go. Regarding your attention to detail during visits, some of our clients have expressed dismay. Your crew supervisor offered work checklists and further training to make sure everything gets done, and you and I have already discussed methods to improve, but I haven’t noticed the necessary adjustments. Your last day is today.”

#6. No-showing

When an employee is no-show, they frequently don’t phone or show up for work. You’re left wondering what’s going on and rushing to complete your daily responsibilities as a result. You can’t let an employee get away with a no-show unless there’s a valid excuse (like an emergency). It has an impact on your company and shows your employees that they can succeed as well.

If an employee isn’t showing up for work, it’s best to terminate them in person, but this might be challenging. You can terminate their employment by sending a text message or email similar to this one after making sure they don’t have a valid emergency, like a serious illness or accident:

What to Say When Terminating an Employee for a No-Show:

You’re being let go for missing work. It has been two days since you failed to arrive at work. I’ve tried calling, texting, and emailing you, but you haven’t returned any of them. I also have no idea where you are or when you’ll be back. This indicates that I cannot rely on you to carry out your duties. I’m mailing your final paycheck because Plum Landscaping no longer employs you.

How to Fire Someone Nicely: What to Say to Your Colleagues Following a Termination

The members of your staff could be concerned they’ll be the next fired employee if you fire one. Both morale and output may be impacted by this. Additionally, other employees can quit on their own, relying on who you fired and why. Your group will enquire. There is no avoiding it. Therefore, it is preferable to arrange a brief meeting or send out an email to provide answers rather than leave people in the dark.

How to Address Your Team After Letting Go of a Problematic Employee:

I must inform you all that Jane will no longer be a member of our team, which is regrettable. Her work did not meet corporate standards, and maintaining client satisfaction is crucial, something the rest of you do exceptionally well.

“None of your jobs are in jeopardy, and business is thriving. I appreciate what you provide, and I hope you’ll stay on staff. I’m happy to answer any queries you may have right now.

After Layoffs, What to Say to Your Team:

“I had to decide whether or not to fire Jane, John, and Alan. We’ve got a lot less work to accomplish recently, as I’ve noted in previous team meetings. The company’s financial status has changed, and I was only able to keep a small number of our top performers. 

As a result of this, I’m certain that we’ll be able to keep you on staff for the time being. To increase revenue, I also allocated a portion of that budget to marketing. I can address any concerns you may have because I recognize that this may still seem very hazy to you.

What Do You Say When Firing Someone?

What to say when letting someone go for bad behavior:

“I had hoped it wouldn’t, but I have to let you go. You’ve been disrespectful to me, your staff, and your clients, and I’ve heard way too many complaints about how you handle yourself. That activity cannot be connected to my business any longer. Your last day is today.

How Do You Say Fire Nicely?

If you follow these recommendations, you can fire someone politely:

  1. Voice early issues. 
  2. Be patient with yourself. 
  3. Practice.
  4. Bring a witness:  
  5. Be precise, and professional. 
  6. Be strong. 
  7. Stay emotionally stable. 
  8. Give them some time. 
  9. Include the HR’s phone number and email address.
  10. Permit a final farewell. 
  11. Consider the ending. 

How Do You Fire Someone Who Is Not a Good Fit?

This is what to say when firing a “not good fit employee” “I’m letting you go because this isn’t working out. We’re terminating this work connection because it’s not a good match, and I realize that you have questions and are probably surprised. Despite being difficult, our choice is final. Therefore, since talking about why won’t change the situation, being silent now is the most fruitful course of action.

How Do You Fire Someone Calmly?

Glickman recommends doing this in a quiet place and then delivering the punchline right away. The first thing she recommends is that you say, “I have some awful news for you.” Your time in this office ends today. Then in a single sentence, explain why you’re leaving your position. She advises, “Be transparent.”

What Are Valid Reasons to Fire Someone?

7 valid causes for employees’ dismissal from work are:

  • Aggression, intimidation, or risk-taking in a sexual context.
  • Dishonest actions.
  • Breakage of company property.
  • Misappropriation of company resources.
  • Job application that misleads the hiring manager.
  • Failing to live up to expectations in one’s job.
  • Negligent attendance.

How Do You Write a Firing Message?

In a letter to [Name], As of [date], we no longer require your services and thus this letter. Although our time spent working with [company name] was rewarding, we must now end our business relationship for [reasons]. Before we officially end our contract, we need to make sure that all outstanding deliverables have been finished.

Can You Fire Someone without Telling Them Why?

In most cases, an employer is not obligated to provide an employee with an explanation for the termination. No legislation mandates the provision of such a justification. However, it may be stipulated in the contract of employment.

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