Eloquent Ways of Firing People

I was wondering what are some solid one liners you guys have used, or thought of using, to let a new guy go without causing major problems.

It’s not you, it’s me?


So I had a new guy start today. The day went pretty well. He was nice, well mannered, and did okay on the glass. Says he has transportation issues. Anyway, at the end of the day right as I’m dropping him off he comes out with, “Yeah, I out ran the cops the other day” “took a ride over some railroad tracks!” Said it was a bumpy ride and his heart was racing.

Uhh okay? So I drop him off and start wondering what would he do behind my back? It’s obvious he’s hot to trot if he gets pulled over. What if it’s in a company vehicle? Not to mention a guy willing to out run the cops isn’t what I would call a “valuable team member”. Oh well not real attached. Guys gotta go. First fire of the season. Can’t babysit anyone. Too busy for that.


I used to manage 54 employees for a branch that brought in $4 million in annual revenue. Unfortunately I had to fire people from time to time. I was once told that the way I did t it was “textbook”. I actually gave classes to Managers covering this topic.

Here are some tips that might help:
-Do it first thing in the morning after everyone else has left. or if they are in the field call them back in.
-Don’t let them know over the phone why they are coming back in when you call them- even if they ask, but don’t lie and try to keep the conversation brief.

“Hey Jon I need you to come back to the office real quick”
“Am I going to get fired? Are you going to fire me??”
“Jon, stop that, I just need you to come in buddy”

-Whatever line you choose, the first sentence that comes out of your mouth should tell them directly that they are fired. Use the word “terminate”, or “no longer employed” vs “fired”. Be direct, say it in one breath. Say it without interruption. The idea is that you want to “shock” them (they probably already know they are going to get fired anyways), and you want to rip off the band-aid quickly. But above all, you want it to be clear. You don’t want to have to explain that “yes” they are being fired. (the reason for “shock” is for your safety and you don’t want to give them time to be able to rebuttal -hence why you don’t tell them over the phone either") Have a 3rd party that is neutral on standby that you can “hand-off” the termed employee to.

"Jon, thanks for coming back, unfortunately, effective today, I can no longer keep you employed here…(pause)…before they can speak say, “George here will give you a ride home/George here will collect your equipment etc”
“Ok, Jon, because of xyz reason, I have no choice but to terminate your employment effective immediately”
"Ok Jon, unfortunately this isn’t working out, so I have no choice but to end your employment today.

Don’t say, “…I have to let you go…” because they will ALWAYS respond with, “what? are you firing me?” to which now your engaged in a conversation of clarification instead of termination.

-Don’t blame “corporate” or higher ups.
-Take ownership of the decision -don’t use “we”, instead use “I”. Don’t say “Well my boss said I had to fire you.” or … “HR said I have to let you go”, or “corporate gave me no choice” …those are horrible and shows your weak and suggests that it wasn’t your decision (which could open up the possibility of negotiation). It places blame on someone other than you. Firing someone is a serious decision and you should own it no matter what.

Keep it short. Get them out of the building as fast as possible. If you think there will be trouble, have someone else sit in the room behind them. Be respectful. Be encouraging.

Try to avoid saying, “I’m sorry”.

Good luck.


Thanks. That was really helpful insight.

On a side note, my wife always says, if you’re going to have a negative conversation with someone always open and close the conversation with something positive. It’s really helped me out lately!

I just don’t have a peace about you ruining my business :blush:


i usually let them go with a day or so pay in hand,to sweeten the exit. without exception everyone iv fired has driven me nutz in one way or another [ faking illness being common ]

so its easy for me to look them in the eye and say .growl, “youre finished as of now,understand?”


I dunno, this sounds more like a “I’m going to have to let you go because you might be a looney” vs “I’m firing you because you are looney.”

Unless you have something in your employee handbook about not possibly being looney?

I’d probably just say that reliable transportation is a requirement for the job and based on what he said about out running the cops, it might not be a good fit with the business you’re trying to build. He might be better off finding a different job where the transportation isn’t as critical.

Now, if he threw a sectional ladder, then oh yes, I’m going to fire you because you’ve abused equipment in a dangerous manner and it’s clearly outlined in the handbook.


driving hard -it might even be just bragging,to impress you. bravado,call it what you will.

one of my current employees would often discuss murder issues ,seems was/is a fan of psycho types and liked the films. i said nothing but noted to myself i might have to remember to “strike low n hard” if ever i was attacked by him . fortunately that sort of chat has ceased recently, im sure it was bravado in hindsight


here at least we do not a “reason” for new employees and i have been told it’s best not to give a specific reason in many cases.


In the restaurants, I would just say “You are fired.” or “You do not work here anymore.”

You may be tempted to confront them alone but it’s wisest to have another person present as a witness.

Its also advisable to have a written record of misbehaviors with signatures from the offender to cover your butt if they decide to hit you back for unemployment, unless they are still within an established probationary period after hiring.


Business is getting tough. I’m sorry have to let you go. I’ll keep you in mind when hinge get bette


I see why he has transportation. Issues. Lol … WTF.
Ya noncompany vechile for this guy , but give him sometime he might turn out to be a good worker.
Just not one that will ever get s company Vechile.

There is always going to be some sort of issues with a window cleaner.
Sone of them you can deal with others it’s a …na your not what I’m looking for. .

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Yeah my thoughts exactly. The problem with these guys, I’ve givin a shot at, have a difficult time understanding that this is an actual job with actual work. I’m not in the business of handing over 15hr to start for some charity or because the guys hard up for a job. That’s not my problem.

My problem is the satisfaction of my customers. So if they wouldn’t hire them, niether would I. I like easy, and need some comfort in the satisfaction that they’ll actually do the job right with a little bit of a professional attitude.

I got a lot riding on my reputation as a small business owner and have arduously built a solid line up of customers to just have some shmo come on and screw up the progress I’ve made. If it’s not a fit I’ll be glad to say sianara.

Feels good. Got that advise from a hiring webinar @Lsmain put out on last year. thanks man…

Also, thanks for the solid advise @RSH. There’s some critical info right there. Really appreciate it.


Let the guy go. Told him he needed more reliable transportation. But “your a great guy!” Told him get wheels and call me. (Total lie) The check for the day is in the mail.

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I’ve fired a few people in my day running a construction crew for my step dad They never liked it either because I was younger than them and I was basically their boss. I’ve had the sorry it’s not working out to the extreme shouting and cursing because they were drunks/druggies.

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Those were the most stressful terminations by far. You never know what they might do, or try to do.

Not trying to sound like I think I’m a bad ass or anything but they knew better than to screw with me.


Ahhh, the old sh*t sandwich style of management.

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Rules with an iron fist

mmm sh*t sandwich… :laughing: