3 tips to smoothly fire someone

Mark Chen

VP Product and Strategy at Rev.com



I have had to let go at least half a dozen people in the last few years and it's never fun. Once you have come to the decision of letting somebody go, I want to share how to make sure that the meeting runs as smoothly as possible.

Actions taken

I have learned to do three things:

  • Break the news up front. When somebody sits down, there's no chit-chat, I often say that this is going to be a bad news conversation. I do this because you don't want to mislead somebody, this is all about managing their emotions and making them feel like they are not surprised.
  • Always have somebody else in the room for compliance. It could be their direct manager or it could be somebody from H.R. You want somebody else with authority in the company to be a witness and make sure that the person doing the firing is not making promises that they can't live up to. Also, If things go off the rails and there is a potential lawsuit later on, you have a witness.
  • Go really slowly. These are emotional decisions and a lot of time after you break the bad news, the person getting let go isn't listening to a single thing you say because they are busy worrying about their finances amongst other things.

Lessons learned

It is important to be very upfront and say that you are letting them go. When those three steps have been completed, follow up with everything in written form because people are not really absorbing everything that you are saying. If there is a severance offer or a last day agreement, make sure it is in writing or in an email. Get all critical details in writing and send it to the person to make sure everyone is on the same page so that problems don't arise in the future.

Be notified about next articles from Mark Chen

Mark Chen

VP Product and Strategy at Rev.com

CommunicationOrganizational StrategyLeadership TrainingPerformance ReviewsFeedback TechniquesCareer GrowthCareer ProgressionIndividual Contributor RolesCompensation & BenefitsDiversity & Inclusion

Connect and Learn with the Best Eng Leaders

We will send you a weekly newsletter with new mentors, circles, peer groups, content, webinars,bounties and free events.


HomeCircles1-on-1 MentorshipBounties

© 2024 Plato. All rights reserved

LoginSign up