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Here’s Why I’m Going To Fire You

The Right Time to have the You're Fired Conversation


“Here’s why I’m going to fire you.”

Sounds like a pretty tough way to begin a conversation. With an opening like that, the entire meeting is bound to be unpleasant.

That is, unless you are having this conversation exactly when I recommend you have it – before you offer the job. 

For most employers, the hiring conversation is easy; all smiles, greetings and happy expectations. It’s the firing conversation that’s hard.

As an employer about to let someone go, you know walking into the meeting that it won’t be pleasant, so you work to get your ducks in a row. By the time you walk into that meeting, you know every area of deficiency, the warnings given and the results obtained.

You better, because the questions are going to come. At the very least, the employee is going to ask, “Why are you firing me?”

Sometimes the employee had no warning, or claims she didn’t. Often, she knew of dissatisfaction, but had no idea it had risen to the level of termination.

And that’s the one thing you can’t do. You can’t go back in time to make sure she understood the key performance metrics from her very first day.

Looking back, you know you told her about her new job title, salary, the company’s vacation policy, where her desk was located, benefits, directions to the restroom and the procedure to order office supplies.

But did you tell her why she’d be fired? 

  • I’m bringing you in to secure the MacKenzie contract. If you lose that, we may have to let you go.
  • You have to reach a minimum of $100,000 in sales by August, otherwise we’ll have to reevaluate whether this is the right job for you.
  • You’re here to support the marketing department. If they’re not happy, I’m not happy.
  • You’re going to be graded on cost control and the resultant increase in our profit margin. 

That’s the conversation to have right from the get go. Too few employers have it. Almost all employees need it.

Key Takeaway: Fire first. Hire second.

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