How to Fire an Employee: Part 2

February 20, 2020  /  By Neil Ducoff

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If you didn’t read tips 1-5 on how to let someone go, that would be a great place to start. Click here first to make sure that you’re fully up to speed so you can handle this topic like a pro! Now let's dive into tips 6-10 on the best tips to firing an employee.


6.   Don’t pay for excuses: The formula for a successful career doesn’t change from generation to generation. It takes commitment and hard work- a string of excuses is a pattern of behavior.


KEY: Every paycheck you give employees buys their chosen performance and commitment to their job and career. If you’re buying excuses rather than performance, it’s time to address what you’re buying.


7.   Own your contribution: One of the toughest questions owners and leaders can ask themselves is, “What do I own in having to fire this employee?” If your answer is that you did everything reasonably possible, that’s good. If your answer is that you didn’t address the employee’s issues fast enough, then you have an opportunity to learn and grow.


KEY: Owners and leaders make mistakes too. The ability to learn and grow from your mistakes is the sign of a No-Compromise Leader.


8.   Most firings are earned: When a decision is made to fire an employee for performance and behavior issues, that employee earned that firing. Of course, there’s nothing pleasant about firing an employee, and it’s especially difficult when you get caught in the employees’ personal situation.


KEY: The fact is, the employee earns his or her firing by not correcting and improving. You are simply carrying out your responsibility to give the employee what he or she earned - to be fired.


9.   Don’t ask this question: Every time I’m asked the question, “How long do you wait until you fire an employee?” my response is, “By asking this question, you’ve already waited too long.” I’m not suggesting that owners be quick to fire. I’m stating that owners often get too caught up on the “what if’s” and emotional aspects of firing an employee.


KEY: Everyone in the company almost always knows that the employee needs to go and when you’re avoiding it. Every day the decision lingers on, that one employee is doing damage to your culture.


10.   Get it over with: There really isn't any good time to fire an employee. My advice to owners is to get the firing over with so you can get back to leading your team and your company.


KEY: Schedule a meeting with the employee at the end of the business day. Have a manager or senior team member with you in the meeting. Meet with the employee and get these words out calmly and respectfully, “I’m sorry to tell you that we are terminating your employment here.” That immediately transfers the burden from you to the employee. Maybe the employee has expected this and takes it well. Maybe the employee will blow up or cry. Follow the necessary Labor Laws for termination.


Here’s my challenge to you: Do the work of leadership to the best of your ability to screen applicants and indoctrinate new hires into your culture and invest in leadership coaching. The responsibility of firing an employee will never go away, but you’ll have fewer firings to deal with if you prioritize creating, nurturing and protecting your company’s culture first.

About Our Guest Contributor

Neil Ducoff, Strategies

Neil Ducoff is the founder and CEO of Strategies, a business training and coaching company specializing in the professional beauty industry. His is a business trainer, coach, keynote speaker, an award-winning author, and the creator of the Team-Based Pay System. Ducoff is the author of Fast Forward, the definitive business resource book for salons and spas. and No-Compromise Leadership, winner of the 2010 IPPY Award for Business. His latest book, Wake Up!, contains 114 fast and powerful strategies to achieve extraordinary next level success.


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