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Firing People ... 13 Thoughts (might be unlucky for some)

This is one of those tough tasks that every manager has some trouble with, but most learn that it comes with the territory.

You will hear phrases like, “Hire slow, fire fast” … but I have never found that to be a particularly useful phrase. 

In fact, as we return to skills shortages it will become imperative to move fast through the hiring cycle, and employers may well need to lower their standards a little just to get people capable of doing a decent job, as opposed to the perfect fit!  

Perhaps “Hire fast (with due diligence) and fire as a last resort” will become the new management mantra!

Here is my take on firing people:

1.  When you hire someone then YOU accept a responsibility to help that person to be successful.  That may mean good on-boarding practices, good initial training, a mentor to help and regular feedback.

2.  You know quickly if someone is struggling … you need to address it quickly too.  Understand why they are struggling and try to help them.  This applies to new staff OR people that have been around for a while.

3.  If someone is not doing their job then that very likely means that either someone else is doing it for them, or your customer is being hurt.

4.  Ultimately we are all responsible for ourselves … if you are fair to an employee, give them feedback, give them help and they still don’t get it then their failure is their own responsibility.

5.  Once the writing is on the wall it is just a matter of time … everyone knows it is coming, so just get it over with.

6.  You are not doing any favors to an under performer by keeping them around.

7.  You are hurting the rest of your team (and perhaps your customers) if you don’t act.

8.  You are keeping someone else, who WILL perform, from a job if you keep the under performer around.

9.  As a manager your responsibility is to your employer … to deliver the service or product your group is mandated to deliver, in an efficient way.

10.  When you fire that person, it should not be a shock because you have been giving feedback throughout.

11.  If you have given feedback and help but you still need to fire that person then remember YOU are not to blame.

12.  The fired employee may be better off in another role, or another company … time will tell, but that should not be a way for you to feel better.

13.  Treat the outgoing person with as much dignity as possible … but make it happen.

"The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it."

Norman Schwarzkopf

Kevin Dee is the founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)

Want to know where Canada's hot jobs are? Visit the Eagle Job Board!


I write these articles with the intent of sharing MY experience and knowledge gained during MY life journey. From the 16 year old joining the Royal Navy, through many incarnations, to the grey haired guy who built a business. If you find a nugget here, then I am happy. If the message offends you then I apologise, that was never my intent. I know and recognize there are many people and groups who have a far bigger challenge than I have had and I only wish you well.