Letting an Employee Go: 13 Key Tips for New Managers



Letting an Employee Go: 13 Key Tips for New Managers

Young entrepreneurs don’t always have an easy time dealing with their teams. Sometimes, an employee just doesn’t fit the expectations that a business owner or the company has for them. In such a case, the most beneficial thing to do is to let the employee go. Breaking the news to them requires a bit of planning, however. It can be an emotional time for the employee, and managers — especially ones who are new to the position — may be worried about emotional outbursts from the employee or other fallout. That’s why we asked members of Young Entrepreneur Council the following:

“An employee isn’t working out, and you know you have to let them go. What should a small business owner, particularly one who may be new to management, know before they sit down with the employee and give them the news?”



Tips on Letting an Employee Go

1. Be Honest But Brief

“An employee would rather know why they’re being fired. Give them honest feedback with a performance evaluation and make sure beforehand to follow the Human Resources’ system of written or verbal complaints so they have no grounds for wrongful termination lawsuits. They will be more hurt and angry if you hide your reasons because they cannot learn from their mistakes. Honesty is the best default.” ~ Patrick Barnhill, Specialist ID, Inc.

2. Prepare What You Want to Say

“It’s important to think through everything you want to say to the employee about why it’s not working. Wording it in advance can help remove any emotion from the experience while also reflecting on how you can be respectful of the employee at the same time.” ~ John Rampton, Calendar

3. Keep a Log

“All small business owners should keep a log of the employee’s behavior for a week or two leading up to the termination to prevent legal issues or lawsuits arising. Make notes about the employee’s behavior, poor performance or any other relevant issues that would result in termination.” ~ Kristin Kimberly Marquet, Marquet Media, LLC

4. Grab a Witness

“If you’re going to terminate someone, make sure you have another manager there in the room while it happens. This procedure is excellent for documenting and defusing the situation if it escalates. Additionally, a witness can help if false claims get filed against your company.” ~ Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights

5. Pick a Proper Time and Place

“Just as important as what you say, is the time and the place you say it. If you have an open-area office plan, be sure to hold the meeting in a private conference room away from other employees. And it’s wise to do it earlier in the week like on a Monday rather than on a Friday; this allows your other employees to adjust during the rest of the work week without the employee you let go.” ~ David Henzel, LTVPlus

6. Expect the Worst

“Some people will not take losing their job very well and may freak out and seek to do damage. Before actually sitting down, separate them from the rest of the team, remove their logins and so on to ensure they don’t cause any harm to the rest of your business. When it’s time to let people go, you should do so fully and simply pay out their last month.” ~ Karl Kangur, Above House

7. Remain Calm

“Being let go is pretty daunting news for most, so when the time comes, remain calm and don’t let any negativity get under your skin. It’s also important to be empathetic toward the employee if they’re being let go for things out of their control, so keep this in mind when bearing the bad news.” ~ Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

8. Listen to Their Interpretation

“Even if the decision to terminate is already finalized, it’s still crucial to have open ears and listen to your employees when they explain their side of the story. Just because you’re letting them go doesn’t mean they don’t deserve respect and dignity, and the least you can do is hear them out.” ~ Jared Atchison, WPForms



9. Protect Your Information Systems

“The ideal situation is where the employee termination takes place calmly and without ill will. Nevertheless, it’s smart to protect your information systems well in advance. Make sure that the employee no longer has access to their email, company accounts and resources. Work with your IT staff to take the proper steps to manage your employee’s account before termination.” ~ Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

10. Consider the Whole Picture

“Never fire an employee before you have a solid backup plan in place. Firing an employee without a plan in place to replace their contribution to the team can have a negative effect on the morale of the entire team. Especially if as a result of the firing, you are suddenly asking them to do even more work than their already full plate.” ~ Ben Walker, Transcription Outsourcing, LLC

11. Offer the Opportunity for Feedback

“It’s important that you have a good understanding of what failed and why and to be very clear about why things didn’t work out — if it was an issue of matching expectations or if the employee’s work was suffering. Either way, allow them to answer and ask for any feedback. Hopefully they will improve for the next company and not leave your company with sour feelings that could manifest later on in slander.” ~ Nicole Munoz, Nicole Munoz Consulting, Inc.

12. Identify the Legal Grounds

“Depending on where your business is located, there are different rules for termination of a contract. In some parts of the world this is more difficult than others. Before having this conversation with your employee, you need to know what rights you have and ensure you have documented the process. This will avoid any ugly disputes that could be costly for your business reputation.” ~ Baruch Labunski, Rank Secure



13. Wish Them Well

“It seems fairly obvious and polite to end your conversation with an employee by wishing them the best. However, it’s something that’s easy to forget if the moment is tense, as it often can be. You want to end your conversation with your employee with a fair and positive impression, if possible. You never know if your paths cross in the future and you always want to take the high road.” ~ Blair Williams, MemberPress

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The Young Entrepreneur Council


The Young Entrepreneur Council The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

2 Reactions

  1. All good tips, but having solid documentation is vital if you want to avoid/win a lawsuit (that’s part of assuming the worst).

  2. Aira Bongco

    You need an exit routine. It is not just an exit interview. And it is good for retiring employees as well.

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