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It's Not You, It's Me : How To Fire A Team Member

Sep 19, 2018 3:07:53 PM

I know this is the dreaded task that we all hate.  No matter how much a person may deserve it and no matter how high of a driver you are, this is not a fun job.

Also, it should be undertaken with careful thought and preparation, it is best not to fire on the spur of the moment or when you are angry.

Even if your team or operation is small, you want to handle firing in a highly professional manner.  Take the high road, be concise and courteous, there is no reason to re-hash old frustrations.

Remember, it is not a debate; you have made your decision!

You could think of firing like ripping off a Band-Aid, make it quick and clean.

I suggest having some documentation in their file, to have for back up if they dispute and any claims.

The following are simply a few common sense tips.  To be certain you handle it by the book based on the laws in your state, you may want to contact an attorney for assistance.

Good Reasons to Fire Someone:

  1. They are a negative influence on the office and don't represent the company culture.
  2. They are disrespectful to you or the team or the clients.
  3. They are late or miss work frequently.
  4. They lie!
  5. They are making sloppy mistakes and not responding to training offered.
  6. They have overall poor work habits - you can train for skill but you can't instill work habits!
  7. They want more money than they deserve and more than you are prepared to offer and it's a deal breaker.
  8. They bring personal problems and drama to the job.
  9. They are not a fit for you or the team and it's creating problems and irritation.
  10. You don't feel they are capable to grow in the direction you need them to grow into.
  11. They seem unhappy and frequently complain about being over worked.
  12. Clients and vendors don't like them and won't work with them.
  13. They don't follow clear instructions even when the same instructions are given over and over again.


Tips to Fire Gracefully:

  1. Be calm, scripted, and well-prepared.  It may be best to hold it in a neutral location like the conference room so that you can stand up and exit the meeting when you are done.
  2. If you can, avoid firing at highly emotional times like just before Christmas.  This would be preferred even if you have to pay them a bit longer to get past an emotional date.
  3. Get quickly to the point without drama or detail, keep it simple and specific.
  4. Set up the meeting for a time, if possible, when no one else other than your witness is around, we don't want to embarrass them!  Usually end of day is best and experts often recommend mid-week vs. end of the week to give you and them time to sort through everything and wrap up all details so they don't stew over it during the weekend.
  5. Always have a witness with you!
  6. Have any termination paperwork your attorney has prepared ready for signature.
  7. If you owe them any final monies have that prepared as well.
  8. Have a checklist of company property they need to return and have a box ready to assist them in packing their things.
  9. If possible, offer them the option of resigning.
  10. You will need to be prepared to address their questions regarding benefits, leads, bonuses or any other compensation they may feel they are due.
  11. If any negotiations of benefits or bonuses take place you may want to put the agreement in writing and send to them post firing to document all that was discussed. Before you bring them in to let them go you will want to change the passcodes or take any other security measures you feel are necessary.
  12. If you feel there is any threat of physical harm from them towards you or any of your team, you will want to take action to protect yourself and decide what safety measures need to be taken.  Trust your instincts. If you think there may be a problem then there may be a problem!
  13. Be careful what you say about them after you terminate them, take the high road!  The staff will respect you more for doing so.
  14. Always be scouting talent because you never know when you will need you next replacement.
  15. If you find you are constantly firing people, then you should look at the common denominator in the situation…YOU!  Either your hiring or training practices are flawed or perhaps you need to work on your leadership skills.


The hiring and firing process is an area where you may have little experience and skill, and we advise you to seek the help of an attorney, an HR service or any other company resources that are available to you to be sure you handle everything properly. Please note that when reaching out to the attorney be certain to let them know if you are firing an independent contractor or an employee because the rules will be different for each. These suggestions in no way are meant to give legal advice or set policy for your firing process.

Author Bio: Debbie De Grote

Debbie is not only considered to be one of the most experienced and most in-demand real estate coaches in North America she also has a track record as being an outstanding top selling real estate salesperson.  Debbie was ranked number 1 in listing and sales for Century 21 in Los Angeles and Orange County, number 3 in the nation and number 10 internationally

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