Get All Access for $5/mo

Difficult but Sometimes Necessary: How to Fire an Employee The process isn't fun but, in order to grow, you need the right people in the right positions. Here are some helpful tips in case you need to let someone go.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur Europe, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

YinYang | Getty Images

Terminating an employee is never easy, especially in the European Union, where stringent protections are in place to ensure no one is ever fired for an unjust reason. But after exploring every other option to solve the issue, you've made the decision to let the problem employee go. The process isn't easy and surely isn't fun. With this in mind, here are some helpful tips about what to do, say, and expect.

Prepare documentation.

Prior to the meeting during which you will terminate the employee, gather documentation to back yourself up. Gather notes from previous meetings with the employee – especially those where you discussed poor performance and the eventuality of a firing if the situation didn't improve – as well as a print-out of their job description and any documentation showing they failed to meet the benchmarks expected of them.

While it may seem harsh and clinical, this will give you something solid to fall back on and allow you to avoid emotional and personal discussions while sticking to facts.

Don't beat around the bush.

Get straight to the point in the meeting. Small talk or anxious delays will only insult the person once you get around to firing them. There is no easy way to do this, but if it has to be done, it's your job as a leader to make the process quick and efficient. Plan what you'll say, but keep it simple. For instance, opt for something like, "Please sit down. I have unfortunate news. Today will be your final day with the company."

Be clear about why this is happening.

Point to the documentation that you have showing poor performance or personal conduct. Not only are you required to have a valid reason to terminate an employee, but it's a professional courtesy to give them a clear understanding of what went wrong so they can be better prepared for their next job. You cover yourself legally and do a good deed by being clear about the reasons rather than vague.

Discuss the future.

You will likely owe them severance pay, so a key part of this conversation will be shifting from discussing past performance to future plans. Outline exactly how and when they can expect their pay, as well as who their company contact for future questions regarding the package will be.

Also be clear about expectations for the moments and days following the meeting. Explain in detail when their company email or key cards will stop functioning and how much time they have to exit the property. Provide protocols and timelines for returning company-owned devices. Leave nothing unclear.

Save time for (and expect) questions.

While you may want to get this over as quickly as possible, you should still leave time for questions. As prepared as you may be, there will almost surely be questions you did not anticipate and as a good leader, you should answer them honestly and thoughtfully.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.


Taylor Swift Has a Lucky Number. And She's Not the Only High Performer Who Leans Into Superstitions to Boost Confidence.

Even megastars like Swift need a little extra something to get them in the right mindset when it is game time.

Business News

Prime Day Is Reportedly a 'Major' Source of Injury for Amazon Warehouse Workers

Amazon Prime Day 2024 was held on July 16 and 17, and preliminary data shows shoppers were not afraid to spend on the sales.

Business News

How to Be a Billionaire By 25, According to a College Dropout Turned CEO Worth $1.6 Billion

Austin Russell became the world's youngest self-made billionaire in 2020 at age 25.

Starting a Business

How to Find the Right Programmers: A Brief Guideline for Startup Founders

For startup founders under a plethora of challenges like timing, investors and changing market demand, it is extremely hard to hire programmers who can deliver.