Knowing when to fire someone is a necessary skill for any business owner. I became very good at firing employees because when I acquired one of my businesses it had 200% turnover.

One of the things I realized very early in my entrepreneurial career is that the reasons for firing generally fall into one of three distinct categories. At play could either be a procedural issue, behavior issue, or misaligned intentions.

When an employee is doing poorly, you must investigate the root cause. First, assume that this person is probably not incompetent and assume they are probably not trying to steal. These are two very important assumptions because many times as business owners, by default we take our employees’ mistakes or our employees non-performance very personally.

Then evaluate if they are performing procedures to a standard that is consistent with specifications. If they are not, consider retraining. Give them a space where they are told what action is to be done, told how to do it, and demonstrate a level of proficiency in the task that they are being asked to do. Procedural issues are generally easily rectified.

If they are having behavioral problems, there is a choice in remedial action based on if the issue is duties or cultural based. Either reassign them to another area of work that is still within their Unique Ability or reassign them to another culturally different division or team (if one exists). Sometimes people have personality conflicts and there is no way around it.

In the case that retraining or reassignment does not work, and it appears the employee’s intentions are misaligned with your own, then remove them. Simply recognize that they potentially have the ability to be a great asset, just maybe not for you.

Firing someone is never easy. Being fired from a position is also never easy. It’s important that as you go through the firing process, that you maintain perspective that the person in front of you is a living, breathing, intelligent, capable human being. They just may not be working out for you.

As you go through this perspective check, there is a certain level of patience and allowing that you have to develop. Recognize that there is value in this human being, there is purpose, and there is inspiration. Even if they are being nasty to you, understand that they are being defensive and emotional because this job means something to them. Perhaps they may not have such a negative disposition when being fired. You may find them being grateful for finally being recognized that they are not doing well, and by your deciding they just need to go, you get to provide relief to them. They now get to go do something that they really love and are passionate about.

Many times we lose our perspective on firing employees because we confuse the fact that they are not working out well for us with the fact that we think that there is something wrong with them. As an employer who is looking to maintain a culture of respect and honor, I challenge you to create and uphold a different standard. Appreciate who they are. Be mindful not to confuse who they are with what they did or did not do for you. For me, maintaining that level of respect, regard and honor has led to exit interviews in which people are crying, hugging me, and thanking me for the ability to have worked with me as I take their keys.
Recognize that when someone is fired effectively, everyone wins. The former employee gets to be in line with some other opportunity while the business owner gets to understand their organization and their values more while not acting in any kind of desperation at the cost of the company’s culture.

With an effective firing, many times the employee will ask for their job back. If they have already been a cultural deficit, make sure to kindly say, “no.”

Author's Bio: 

The Confident Solutions Coach Hugh Stewart is a successful business person who helps small business owners who are ready for tremendous success achieve their goals.

Learn more about Hugh and his unique business coaching techniques at