How to fire someone
June 21, 2024

How to Fire Someone Nicely


Want to fire someone nicely but don’t know how? 

It feels awkward, right? We knooow….been there, done that! It’s not easy, especially if it’s your first time. 

But hey! You have a business to run. Profits to make. Investors to report to…maybe. We couldn’t have put it better than John Wayne, “a man’s (or is it a woman) got to do what a man’s got to do.” 

So, if it’s time to let go of an employee, you must do so lest your business continues to suffer.

But how do you fire someone nicely? You know, without “hurting their feelings?”

We’ll show you how in the sections below. We’ve even thrown in a few scripts to get your juices flowing. Sounds good?

Let’s get cracking!

How Do You “Prepare the Ground” Before Firing Someone?

Before termination, you must make sure the decision is justified and defensible. Here’s what you need to do;

Identify the Problem

how to fire someone

Common issues that may warrant termination include:

Chronic Lateness or Absenteeism

Chronic lateness or absenteeism refers to an employee who is consistently late to work or frequently absent without valid reasons.

First, regular lateness or absenteeism can disrupt your team’s workflow and productivity. On top of that, other employees may need to cover for the absent employee, which can cause stress and reduced morale.

Moreover, it can affect the organization’s overall performance and reputation, especially if client-facing roles are involved.

Examples of chronic lateness or absenteeism include;

  • Arriving late multiple times a week without justifiable reasons.
  • Calling in sick without proper medical documentation.
  • Repeated absences during critical project deadlines or important meetings.

If you intend to fire such an employee, keep track of attendance records, noting dates and times of lateness or absence, as well as any excuses provided. 

Unprofessional Behavior

Unprofessional behavior includes rudeness, hostility, or uncooperative behavior towards colleagues and management.

Such behavior can create a toxic work environment, cause conflict, and affect productivity. 

Examples of such misconduct include

  • Frequently interrupting or talking over colleagues during meetings.
  • Responding to feedback with hostility or defensiveness.
  • Using inappropriate or offensive language 

To strengthen your case against an employee who’s behaving badly, collect statements from affected colleagues and maintain a record of specific incidents, including dates, descriptions, and any witnesses. 

The idea is to help establish a pattern and provide concrete examples of the issues.

Performance Issues

how to terminate an employee

Underperformance includes failing to meet job standards or deadlines. 

Poor performance can directly affect the success of your projects, cause client dissatisfaction, and slow down your business. It can also burden the entire team, who may need to compensate for the underperforming employee’s shortcomings.

Common examples of performance issues include:

  • Missing deadlines for projects or assignments regularly.
  • Producing work that does not meet the required quality standards.
  • Failing to achieve key performance indicators (KPIs) despite adequate training and resources.

Firing such an employee calls for you to keep detailed records of performance reviews, feedback sessions, and any improvement plans that were implemented.

Document specific instances where the employee failed to meet expectations and the steps taken to address these issues.

What You Need to Do Before Firing an Employee

Your employee is guilty of one or multiple accusations above. They must go. 

Here’s how to handle the situation professionally without facing legal backlash or damaging your company’s or personal reputation.

Get the Documentation

how to let go of an employee

Gather all necessary documents for the termination process. This step is crucial if you want to fire someone nicely and avoid a wrongful termination lawsuit. So, get the following documents:

Prepare the Proof/Reason for Termination

Compile a detailed timeline and evidence supporting the reasons for the termination. You want to show the employee that this wasn’t a rushed decision and that you have enough reasons to terminate their contract.

Determine the Compensation Package

Prepare the compensation package that the employee is entitled to upon termination. This typically includes at least the remaining pay for the current month. However, specifics may vary depending on the company policy and the employee’s contract.

Pro Tip: Consider if it’s the right time to let the employee go before terminating them. You can, for instance, delay the termination if your company is in its peak working season to prevent disruptions in productivity. 

How to Convey the Message 

Pick the right date, location, and medium for firing someone. You want to ensure the process is appropriate and respectful.

You can fire someone nicely through:

A Face-to-face Meeting

Face-to-face termination allows for direct and transparent communication. In addition, it enables you to show empathy while giving you the opportunity to address immediate concerns. 

Plus, face-to-face meetings allow for a more personal touch, which can be important in such sensitive situations. However, it’s important to follow up with a written confirmation to maintain professionalism.

In cases involving potentially unruly employees, you may need to evict them from your premises by force. 

Sample script

“Thank you for meeting with me today. We need to discuss your performance and the expectations we had set. Despite our previous conversations and the support provided, there hasn’t been a significant improvement in your performance. Regrettably, we have decided to terminate your employment effective immediately. We appreciate your efforts and wish you the best in your future endeavors.”

Phone Call

how to fire someone nicely

Phone calls are less personal than face-to-face meetings. While they allow for immediate feedback and clarification, phone calls lack visual cues you need to gauge the employee’s reaction.. 

Phone calls are suitable when in-person meetings are not feasible due to distance or other constraints. To enhance transparency, it’s advisable to have multiple witnesses present during the call.

Sample script

Hello [Employee Name]

Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. I wanted to address an important matter regarding your attendance. Despite our previous discussions and attempts to resolve the issues of chronic lateness and absenteeism, there hasn’t been a significant improvement.

As a result, we have made the difficult decision to terminate your employment with us, effective immediately. This decision is not taken lightly, but it is necessary for the overall productivity and functioning of the team.

We appreciate your efforts during your time here and wish you the best in your future endeavors. You will receive an official termination letter via email, which will outline the next steps and any final compensation details.

Thank you, and take care.”

Text Message

Firing an employee via text message is highly unprofessional and should be avoided at all costs. It lacks the necessary formality and respect.


Emails and letters provide a formal and clear record of the termination, which can be important for legal and documentation purposes. 

In addition, they allow the employee to process the information privately. You, however, may want to follow up a termination letter with a phone call or face-to-face meeting to answer any questions. 

Sample script

Dear [Employee Name]

I hope this message finds you well.

After careful consideration, I regret to inform you that we have decided to terminate your employment with [Your Company Name], effective immediately. This decision follows multiple discussions and attempts to address issues related to unprofessional conduct, which have not been resolved satisfactorily.

We understand that this news may be difficult to receive. Please know that this decision was made to maintain the professional standards and values that our company upholds.

You will receive your final paycheck and details regarding any remaining benefits in a separate email shortly. Additionally, please make arrangements to return any company property in your possession by [specific date].

We appreciate the efforts you have made during your time with us and wish you success in your future endeavors.


[Your Name]

[Your Company Name]

Video Call

how to fire someone nicely

A video call combines some of the benefits of both face-to-face and phone communication. It allows for visual interaction, making the conversation more personal than a phone call while still providing the convenience of remote communication. 

Video calls can be effective for maintaining a personal connection while managing logistical challenges.

Sample Script

“Hello, [Employee Name]

Thank you for joining this call. I hope you are doing well.”

Transition to Topic:

“I want to discuss an important matter with you. This is not an easy conversation, and I appreciate you taking the time to speak with me.”

Delivering the News:

“After careful consideration and multiple discussions about [specific issue, e.g., chronic lateness or absenteeism, unprofessional behavior, performance issues], it is clear that there hasn’t been significant improvement. Despite our efforts to support you, we have made the difficult decision to terminate your employment with [Your Company Name], effective immediately.”

Allowing Time to Process

“I understand this news may be unexpected and difficult to process. Please take a moment if you need to.”

Providing Support and Next Steps

“We want to support you during this transition. You will receive an official termination letter via email shortly, outlining the details of your final paycheck, any severance package, and the process for returning company property.

If you have any questions or need further assistance, please feel free to reach out. We also offer resources such as career counseling and outplacement services, which you can utilize during this period.”

Maintaining Empathy and Professionalism

“I want to express our appreciation for the contributions you’ve made to the company. This decision was not made lightly, and we genuinely wish you all the best in your future endeavors.”

Closing the Call

“Thank you for your time, [Employee Name]. If you have any further questions or need additional information, please don’t hesitate to contact me or HR.”

“Take care, and all the best.”

Things to Keep in Mind When Firing Someone

Here’s what you need to remember when firing someone, irrespective of the reason.

1. Focus on Facts, Not Personal Feelings

Maintain neutrality. It’s crucial to remain objective and avoid letting personal emotions influence your words. 

Under no circumstances should you berate the employee or express personal attacks. Doing so could have legal ramifications and damage your professional integrity.

2. Allow Time for Processing

When delivering the news, give the employee time to absorb the information. Losing a job can be very challenging, and the individual will need a moment to come to terms with the situation.

3. Be Graceful and Empathetic

Acknowledge the difficulty of the situation and approach it with empathy. While your decision is final and based on careful consideration, showing compassion can make the process less harsh for the employee.

4. Maintain Privacy

Confidentiality is key. Ensure the details of the termination are kept private and not shared with others in the company. This respects the employee’s dignity and prevents unnecessary gossip.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Do You Say When Firing Someone Nicely?

When firing someone nicely, say, “We appreciate your efforts, but we need to let you go. This isn’t about your character or performance. We’ll support you through this transition.”

How Do You Fire Someone Without Cause Nicely?

To fire someone without cause nicely, say, “Due to restructuring, we must eliminate your position. This decision isn’t based on your performance. We’re committed to helping you with career transition support.”

How To Start a Termination Conversation?

To start a termination conversation, say, “Can we speak privately? This is a difficult conversation. Unfortunately, we need to discuss ending your employment. We’re here to support you through this transition.”

Firing Someone Nicely – The Bottom Line

And that, friends, is how to fire someone nicely! You don’t have to overthink it if you already have enough reasons to fire an employee. 

What if You Don’t Have to Fire the Person?

Not every “bad” situation warrants firing an employee. Communication breakdown between employees and managers can lead to misunderstandings, decreased morale, and productivity issues.

Addressing these problems through open dialogue, additional training, or conflict resolution strategies can often rectify the situation.

Speaking of conflict resolution strategies, our Multichannel Inbox has a Team Chat tool that allows for real-time communication between employees and managers.

That way, you can resolve misunderstandings quickly, promote transparency, and encourage collaborative problem-solving.
With a platform that allows immediate and direct communication, you can effectively address issues as they arise, preventing escalation and creating a more cohesive and productive team environment.

Addressing these problems through open dialogue, additional training, or conflict resolution strategies can often rectify the situation. Speaking of conflict resolution strategies, our Multichannel Inbox comes with a Team Chat feature that allows you to …