How do you fire a long time employee?

And without looking like an a**hole?

For leaders and managers...

Here's my personal guide to firing a team member:
Before we begin, some background...

• I will share what I did, from experience

• I've only needed to execute 3 fires in my career, fortunately

• I'm a General Manager of an 8 figure digital marketing company in Singapore

Take what works for you. Dump the rest.

Let's go:
1/ Be mentally prepared to look like an ass

You have your own reasons to fire her.

It's likely logical to you.

But she could see things a different way.

As a leader, there are times you'll be deeply misunderstood.

It's part of the terrain.

Welcome to management.
2/ Write down your reasons on paper beforehand

This forces you to crystalize your thoughts.

Makes you objective.

What sounds great in our heads could look weak on paper.

This decision involves her livelihood.

So take it seriously.
3/ You must do this YOURSELF

You cannot outsource this to HR.

She won’t remember every day she worked for you...

But she'll remember the day you fired her. Down to the last detail.

She busted her ass working for you.

Have the courage to let her go yourself.
4/ Script and rehearse

I'm not one to script things.

But when it comes to firing, I make an exception.

They will remember this conversation for a long time, so you need to get it right.

This also prevents you from misspeaking
5/ Before you execute the firing, remind yourself that you are human

Like your employee, you're fallible too.

In fact, you're also at fault.

Either you didn't train her well, or you matched her to the wrong role.

It's not all on her.

Have compassion before going in.
6/ When meeting her, sit opposite.

Not beside. Not diagonally across.

But directly opposite.

Position matters.

This sets the tone physically.
7/ "I've called you in here for a difficult reason..."

I like to open with this.

It sets the context for what's about to come.

She knows what to expect.

This will be a tough conversation.
8/ Share your reasons, but be quick.

This is NOT the time to give detailed feedback.

That should have been done in the 1-1s and performance reviews before this.

She already knows what's coming. So keep it short.

Be clear on your reasons.

And don't sugarcoat it.
9/ Use decisive language

Say "I have decided".

Not "I think... I plan... I intend to".

This is a firing. Not a performance review.

Do not leave the discussion open ended.

This is non-negotiable.
10/ Have the severance package ready on hand

Once she hears the news, the conversation will switch in a second.

She'll stop caring about the company and its issues...

And will be focused on herself and her family.

Be ready with specific details of the severance package.
11/ Inform the team, fast

Here's the order:

Her direct colleagues, department, rest of the company

After the meeting, she'll be texting her close friends in the company.

It's crucial that the news comes from you ASAP.

Otherwise it creates chatter.
12/ Preserve their reputation

It's the decent thing to do.

As her leader, you are responsible too. It's not all on her.

You don’t make yourself look good by trashing someone who worked for you.

You cannot let her keep her job.

But you can let her keep her self respect.
Honestly, it sucks.

It's a terrible feeling to fire someone who worked for you a long time.

Nobody taught me what to do.

I had to figure out mainly from books, articles, and experience.

@bhorowitz book "The Hard Thing About Hard Things" helped me a lot.

I recommend it.
Some assumptions I made when writing the above:

• This is for firing long time employees

• You have already done multiple feedback and review sessions

• They are aware of their weaknesses.

• This will not come as a surprise.

1. Be willing to be misunderstood
2. Write down reasons
3. Fire them yourself
4. Script & rehearse
5. Have compassion
6. Sit opposite
7. Set context
8. Share reasons quick
9. Use decisive language
10. Have severance ready
11. Inform the team fast
12. Preserve reputation
If this has been useful to you as a manager or leader...

You can hop back to the top and Retweet this.

Also follow me at @heymaxkoh

I share my experiences building high income skills in my 9-5 job...

And how I attained financial freedom before age 30.

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