If you have to fire somebody, it’s safer to do it rapidly
  • leadership
  • Blog post

If you have to fire somebody, it’s safer to do it rapidly

It’s sad to say, but firing somebody isn’t just unpleasant – it can be physically dangerous, as the workplace shooting a couple of months ago in Minneapolis demonstrated.

In that case, a supervisor told an employee to come see him, planning to tell the man that he was terminated. The employee, suspecting trouble, went to his car, where police believe he kept the gun that he then took to the meeting – and killed both the supervisor and the company owner, who was sitting in. (The employee shot and killed three more people before killing himself.)

What can supervisors learn from this awful incident?

Simply this: Once you’ve decided that someone needs to be terminated, whether for poor performance or misbehavior, it’s safest to get it done as soon as you can.

Immediate action
What’s that mean in practice? It means you don’t tell someone to come see you in an hour, or even in 15 minutes. Instead, get the meeting set up – assemble any other people you want to be present, and have a final paycheck ready if appropriate – and ask the terminee to come in immediately.

That way, you give the person no opportunity to arm him- or herself, sabotage company equipment, or even spend time stirring up co-workers.

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