• FMG

How to Terminate an Employee

The Right Way to Fire an Employee

I know it is a harsh title. However, many business owners need help creating meaningful accountability systems.  A good system can help prevent “firings,” and improve employee performance.

Here are a couple of basic tips for creating a good accountability system for your employees.

Define Expectations: Define employees' roles and responsibilities clearly, and in writing.

Enforce the Rules: Otherwise point 1 is  . . . pointless.  

Consequences: Make real, meaningful consequences.


Draw a line: Let the staff know the point of no return.

Time to break this advice down into pieces.

Define Expectations

The best way to set a person up for success is to give him clear expectations.  Tell him EXACTLY what you expect, from the hours of his employment, to what he is suppose to do daily, weekly and monthly in his position. Review the document with the employee before he begins working so that you ensure he understands what you expect, and you understand what the employee expects. Support the employee with training and guidance.

For more guidance, visit: Setting Employee Expectations - "How to Communicate Employee Expectations Effectively"

Enforce the Rules

If you do not enforce the rules you set for your employees, then you have just agreed to a new interpretation of the rules. Example: Everyone is suppose to be a work by 8 am, and one employee regularly comes in at 8:15 or 8:30. If you do not call attention to the matter and put an end to it, guess what, new start time is 8:15 or 8:30. What is the point of the 8 am rule after that? Nothing.

For more guidance, visit: Enforce Work Policies Consistently -Harvard Business Review " The Right Way to Hold People Accountable"


Consequences are whatever works to bring behavior back in line with expected behavior. This does not have to be some big thing.  For hourly employees, perhaps no receiving the full hours might be sufficient. Perhaps a write up for an infraction. There must be consequences, let the culture of your work place be your guide for the appropriate consequence. Document all instances in writing with specificity.


Aside from setting rules in the first place, consistently enforcing the rules for all employees is one of the hardest things for mangers/ owners.  If you do not consistently enforce the rules with every employee, you can step into some serious legal trouble for discrimination, or even harassment in some cases. So, no matter how much you like or trust an employee, you must consistently enforce the rules with every employee, every time.

For more guidance, visit: Legal Importance of Consistency -

Draw a Line (in the Sand)

Rules, consequences, and enforcement are still not enough unless you have a final point. The final point is when your employee has amassed a documented record of nonconforming performance.  Your employee is not compiling with the rules you have set to make your business run smoothly. It is time for you and the employee to part ways.

If you apply and adhere to this system, you can correct employee behavior before it reaches the point of no return. Your staff will appreciate the clarity. And, with a documented paper trail, when it is time for an employee to leave, you know you did what you could as a manager/owner.