How to Properly Fire a Team Member

June 28, 2013 by Dave Ramsey's Entreleadership

ai_entre_how_to_fireAs a business owner or leader, it’s one of the toughest calls you’ll ever make. With one decision, you’re affecting someone’s livelihood, family and future. But sometimes, you simply have to let someone go. Although it’s never easy for anyone involved, there is a way you can fire someone that will cause the least amount of damage.

As a bonus interview for our EntreLeadership Advisor readers, Rick Perry, Dave’s HR Director, recently sat down with EntreLeadership Podcast host Chris Hogan to discuss the proper way to fire someone. Here are some of the tips he shared.

Keep Calm

The decision to dismiss someone should never be easy or made in anger. In most cases, it should be your last resort. Before deciding to let someone go, Rick says you need to figure out why they’re not getting the job done. It starts by looking in the mirror and asking yourself:

Is it a leadership failure?

Is it caused by a personal problem? If yes, have you offered additional help, like counseling or extra time off?

Is the failure caused by incompetence?

In most cases, the issues can be fixed once you get to the root of the problem. If not, the firing shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone involved. “If we go through all the steps and it’s still not working, then we let them go,” Rick says. There is an exception to the process. If the person has an integrity issue or they’re caught stealing, they need to be gone that day.

Follow the Golden Rule

Always keep in mind that the day someone gets fired will probably go down as one of their worse ever. So no matter the problem, they deserve to be treated with dignity, compassion and generosity. Simply follow the Golden Rule: Do to others as you would have them do to you.

“You’re going to shine the light on the problem, not burn the individual in the process,” Rick says. “Remember, you still have your job and are in control. They don’t have either one.”

Be Discreet

Aside from losing a job, one of the absolute toughest parts of being fired is flat-out embarrassment. It’s an epic fail for the former team member, even if they hate the job. Never sack someone in front of another team member, unless it’s another leader. In fact, you should always have another leader or someone from human resources with you. If they need to clear out personal belonging from their work station, allow them to do it after hours. “You don’t want it to be a source of drama during the work day for them or other members of the team,” Rick says.

Let Your Team Know

Once an individual has been let go, you need to let your team know about it as soon as possible. You don’t want them to hear it from someone else. Explain there was a problem that could not be resolved. Don’t get into personal issues or put down the person who was fired.

Although firing someone is uncomfortable, it’s unkind to keep them if they don’t belong on your team. If done properly, the former team member can walk away, self-respect intact, to do what they’re called to do-and you’ll earn the admiration of your team.

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Used with permission from To learn more about business, team building and leadership, download Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeadership podcasts, which include lessons from Dave plus interviews with key business leaders from across the nation.

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