It’s something that few fledgling business owners think much about, in the halycon days of founding a new venture. But every business owner, exec, and middle manager has to do it at some point.

Terminating someone’s employment – some might use the less-cushioned term “firing” – is sure to be a source of anxiety, even for those on the delivering end of the news. The process is likely to be awkward, could be cathartic, and might – if you’re particularly unlucky – even be confrontational.

Going into a termination meeting, your aim as the big boss should be to maintain the dignity and self-respect of your soon-to-be-ex employee as much as possible. Ending on reasonably good terms will stop any sense of resentment from being engendered in the subject of the announcement, and will also help minimise public bad-mouthing and (hopefully) avoid legal action.

In the vast majority of cases, employment termination is announced face-to-face. It’s important, then, that employers know just what to expect – especially the first time.

The who’s who

Very few people would want their firing to be announced to the ears of dozens of no-longer-co-workers. Keep attendees to a minimum. The subject’s immediate supervisor, who knows and understands them and the reason for their termination, should be the one to break the news. They’ll be able to predict the employee’s reaction, and might also help to soften the blow.

If you don’t fit this description, then you don’t have to be there.

Should the employee react badly, an objective third party could end up being very useful indeed. Someone from HR should be called in to observe the meeting. Their commentary shouldn’t be solicited – they’re just there to keep a watch.


As with most less-than-ideal situations in life, dragging out employment termination is never a good idea. Try to keep the meeting quick – fifteen minutes should be enough time to do what you need to do.

Holding the meeting early in the day and week – when the subject is more likely to be refreshed and relaxed, rather than tired and lethargic – will minimise the risk of them flying off the handle. Also, try wherever possible to avoid breaking the news in the immediate run-up to a major holiday. You don’t want to ruin anyone’s Christmas, do you?

Location, location, location

An open plan office is certainly not the ideal location for a firing.  Aim for somewhere quiet and private, where the news can be processed as calmly as possible.

A neutral space is almost certainly your best bet. Meeting room hire in Melbourne, for example, offers the advantage of being removed from the day-to-day workspace.  Meeting rooms in Melbourne are much less likely to be loaded with memories and associations, prompting a more considered and manageable reaction.

Neutral ground will also help to avoid any dramatic outbursts – think professions of hatred or equipment destruction. A clean space unburdened by distractions, like, will also make the news more easy to deliver for the bearer of the announcement.

Know your stuff

If you are to be the deliverer of bad news, ensure that you’ve practiced what you’re going to say in advance. A written out checklist will help you conduct the meeting methodically, giving your reasoning and justification in a logical manner. You will need to communicate the employee’s rights, the details of their remaining pay, and expectations about the return of company-owned material such as keys or credit cards.

The person on the receiving end should also be encouraged to speak, venting out negative emotions and flagging to you any potential legal ramifications to come.

If you’ve approached the meeting in a calm, methodical manner, and minimised the risk of an angry outburst wherever possible, you can hope to part pays with your ex-employee in a relatively harmonious manner.