How to fire your core team members with dignity

How to fire your core team members with dignity

Tuesday October 11, 2016,

3 min Read

Running a startup is tough. As a startup founder, you may have to take a lot of harsh decisions from time to time which may not sound pleasing to others, but they'll lay the foundation for a better and brighter future for your company. One such decision is letting non-performing employees go. Chances are they worked in the core team during your early days, when you had fewer resources and limited options, but are now proving counterproductive to the performance of the organisation.


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Although there are various ways in which you can fire core team members, it’s always best to do so with dignity. Strange as it is to use the words ‘fire’ and ‘dignity’ in the same sentence, there are indeed a few principles that can allow your employee to leave with dignity.

Privacy is a major concern

One of the major doubts that haunt an employee when they’re asked to leave the organisation immediately is what people will think of them. In order to keep their farewell dignified, you can take proper precautions to ensure that the issue won’t be discussed with anyone except the founding team members involved in the decision.

Timing of termination

Such decisions aren't easy to take, but once taken, you shouldn't delay the proceedings. In many cases, employees try to justify their roles at the organisation and how they can make a difference in the upcoming 'peak season’. This may create complications at a later stage. Therefore, you need to communicate your decision to the concerned employee at earliest. There's no hard and fast rule about the timing of termination, but you should try to avoid firing any employee right before any weekend or holiday. If you've made up your mind, you can convey your decision to them early in the week, and if possible early in the day, as they would be less stressed and will be able to handle the emotional trauma in a better way.

Firing someone should never be a public announcement

A good way to encourage employees is to announce their previous month's achievements in front of the entire team. Don't mix it with termination decision. The best you can do is to have a face-to-face meeting in private and communicate your decision to the concerned employee. This will allow them to collect their belongings from the office desk and leave the office peacefully.

Along with the above points, make sure you clear all the paperwork and payments right away to avoid any confusion at a later stage. Also, write a recommendation letter based on their performance at the organisation in order to help him find a suitable job.

Telling your core team member that they are not needed anymore is easier said than done, but if you follow these tips, you can reduce the emotional trauma, stress and last minute confusion to a minimum level.