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Chris LoCurto


January 27, 2014

The 5 W’s of Firing and Expert Advice from Fellow Entrepreneurs

January 27, 2014 | By | 20 Comments">20 Comments

We’ve been doing a bit of SEO spring cleaning and came across a post about what to do when it’s time to fire someone. I’d answered the question and then opened up discussion to the tribe. The feedback was incredible. I wanted to share the “best of” from the comments and add a few more thoughts to the topic.

Firing a team member is never easy. Next time you’re facing the task of termination, here are 5 questions to answer and expert advice from fellow entrepreneurs:

Before you pull the trigger, make sure they’ve seen “the smoke before the fire.”  – Eric Dingler

Here is what the preceding time should look like:

Joe, your performance in the area of ___ is really suffering. What can we do to improve that?

Joe, you are still not up to par in ____. We’ve been working on it but I still see no improvement. What can we do differently?

I’m giving a written warning that if ___ does not improve by ____, we will either have to find a new seat on the bus for you or let you go.”  – Matt McWilliams

Take time to reflect on your own leadership and ask yourself, “Am I considering termination because of what they can’t do or what I haven’t done?  – Greg L. Gilbert

Remember, it’s your job to make your team successful, not the other way around! (tweet this)

“The deciding factor is, ‘Is this the right job for him and is he the right person for our business?’ If the answers are ‘No and no,’ then you will feel relieved when you let him know that his services are no longer needed. He will feel relieved to not be in a job where he is not happy.”  – Lily Kreitinger

The 5 W’s of Firing:

  • Who are you firing? If it’s a team member, it should be incredibly tough to terminate that person since it’s someone that you decided to become responsible for. Make sure you’ve considered every angle of the situation before pulling the trigger. If it’s a contractor, have you covered every base? If it’s a client, have you done everything you can to resolve any conflict they have? Have they treated one of your team members disrespectfully without provocation? Not every client is right, and not every person needs to be your client. If the client doesn’t fit, you must uhhhh…quit the relationship. (See what I did there?)
  • What is the situation? Make sure it’s an issue, not a personality style conflict. If it’s an issue, have you done everything you can to solve the problem as their leader? If so, and it has continued, have they been warned repeatedly with a clearly defined plan of action to follow? Make sure the plan of action includes overstated consequences for not following the plan. Is there at least one formal writeup in their file?
  • Why are you firing? First, make sure you are not responding with anger. Give yourself plenty of time to cool down if possible. Use the KRA and outline past discussions. Is it a lack of integrity issue, like stealing? If so, use the phrase, “Don’t let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya!” Or maybe something more professional like, get out!
  • When do you fire? Fire the day of for several reasons. First, they’ve checked out and won’t work hard. Second, it reduces the liability for sharing private company information, taking clients, etc. Third, there’s no reason to hold on and only stress yourself out. If you’ve done everything you can, and you know you’re in the right, get it over with.
  • Where do you fire? Bring them into your office, make it private and drama free. Never EVER fire someone in front of others. Not only is it just mean, it will also cause your team to lose respect for you. Nobody wants to be treated that way, and they will fear that you will do it to them someday as well. “Whatever you do, do it with love and respect. Treat him as you’d want to be treated in the situation.” – Mark Sieverkropp

A few more questions to consider are:

  • Is there a severance package?
  • How will you inform the team? Like I outlined above, make it drama free. Don’t create gossip or spread rumors and don’t allow your team to gossip either.

I like to use the phrase… ‘freeing someone’s future.’ I think part of our job in running organizations is helping people find their place of success. If they are not successful with us, then we need to help them find a place of success.”  – Dennis McIntee

Question: What are your thoughts when it comes to firing?