In my 20 years of experience in human resources, I have never seen or heard of a manager who likes the idea of having to fire an employee. It’s one of those things in corporate America that has a high probability for causing anxiety, or you losing a lot of sleep.

Even as uncomfortable as firing someone is, there is an appropriate way to do it to reduce the chances of a highly charged and emotional experience. As a smart, responsible entrepreneur and business owner, you should have access to a business attorney, and you’ll want to consult with him or her before terminating anyone’s employment with your company. offers a list of great questions you should definitely ask yourself before taking that leap to fire. I share with you the top five of ten questions while inviting you to continue reading the entire list here.

  1. Am I abiding by company policy? If your company has a policy for dismissing employees, be sure to follow it meticulously,
  2. Am I being fair? Seriously consider who supplied the incriminating information about an employee that led to the decision to fire him or her
  3. Am I following state and federal employment law? To be sure you don’t violate state and federal law when terminating someone, consult with your company’s human resources personnel or employment attorney ahead of the termination, or that you research applicable employment laws yourself, if needed. The U.S. Department of Labor thoroughly details federal rules and regulations regarding termination here. To find your state’s labor laws, you can search here.   
  4.  What documentation of the cause of termination is needed? There’s technically no paperwork that’s required to let someone go. However, documenting consistent under performance is key when firing someone for not fulfilling his or her job duties. Keep thorough written records of warnings you’ve given the employee and of any improvement or probation plans provided.
  5. Where and when should I fire the employee? Whatever you do, don’t fire the employee over the phone. Afford him or her the respect of a face-to-face exit interview.

Termination should never been done off the “cuff”, but with solid consideration in following protocol to reduce the probability of backlash of lawsuits from a disgruntled “former” employee. 


Delmar Johnson, as a leader, author, speaker, consultant and coach, I serve from a place of authenticity.  If you are seeking to add value to your next event, retreat, or training, and need a speaker to talk about building a team on a budget, engaging your employees more, personal and professional development, or empowerment, I would love to do that because HR is My Ministry,and I don’t mind showing my human side too.