Tips on firing a toxic employee

Every company will have to deal with a bad “hire”.  Here’s a way to remove the toxic person from the company.  Toxic employees cause toxic company culture.


1. Make sure there are two people in the room when you have this discussion. The door should be shut for privacy, but under no circumstances should this discussion happen one on one. One person can remain completely silent, but you need a witness.

2. Explain, explicitly what the problem is. You can’t say “You’re mean and no one likes you.” You can says

You cut people off mid-sentence
You told Karen she was ugly.
You yelled at Steve in a meeting in front of a client
etc, etc, etc.
3. Has she been told any of this before? I don’t think so, from your letter, so she will be SHOCKED and she will DENY that she has done any of that. She will speak about her accomplishments.

4. Acknowledge her accomplishments, but state clearly that this is about her attitude.

5. Don’t get defensive. It’s very easy to get caught up in defending yourself. You don’t need to do this. You can restate the problems and reiterate that this behavior needs to change.

6. Present her with written documentation of what she

has done wrong
needs to do differently
how this will be monitored
what the consequences will be if she doesn’t fix the problem
7. If she makes improvements, be prepared to acknowledge them. You need to be sure that if you are giving her 30 days to improve and she does improve that you don’t fire her. That’s a lawsuit waiting to happen.
8. If she doesn’t make improvements, terminate her on day 30. Don’t wait until day 32 because someone is out of town. Don’t put it off a week to give her one more chance. Day 30 is her last day of work.

9. Terminate her in a straight forward fashion. Here is a sample dialogue:

Mary, as you know, you have been on a 30 day probation. The terms of this are spelled out here: [present documentation]. As we have discussed, you have not met requirements 1, 3, 4, 5, and 8. Therefore today is your last day of work. Would you like assistance packing up your things?
10. Don’t hover unless you feel that she will cause real problems. How you treat someone when you fire them is extremely important to the financial health of your organization.
11. After she’s gone, tell everyone that she is gone. Don’t let people guess. You don’t need to tell them she was fired–that part is obvious. Again, sample dialogue:

Today was Mary’s last day of work. We appreciate the work she did for us and wish her well in her new endeavors. We’re going to begin the process of hiring someone new to take her place. In the mean time, we hope everyone can pitch in to cover her old responsibilities.

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