When it comes to business, there is no fun way to fire an employee. Don’t turn what’s already a semi-stressful situation for you both into a full-fledged war zone by planning ahead of time. Taking a few steps ahead of time could wind up saving you a real headache when you finally have to bring an employee into your office for “the talk.” Find out how to fire an employee the right way with these tips:

Do Your Homework

Check past performance reviews and know how many raises your employee has had while working for you. If you have been providing too much positive feedback for a job that’s not well done, let your employee know you’re unhappy with their performance. Ask them to turn things around and give them a clear plan of action if they don’t meet your demands.

Document any and all actions you take toward firing employees as well. You should write a memo in their employee file with specific details on what was spoken about and when. Focus on what behavior you would like to see and give them a goal to meet.

If your employee does not meet these goals or make an effort to change their behavior, you then have documented proof of trying to work toward a better work setting, and you can move on to set a meeting to fire them.

meeting in a coffee shop

Call a Face-to-Face Meeting

In order not to risk draining the morale of your entire staff, never fire an employee in front of everyone. When you need to have a serious conversation with an employee, take them aside and take one-on-one. Don’t send emails or texts, make the meeting in a safe and professional environment, such as your office.

Some employers choose to wait to fire an employee until the rest of the staff has left for the day to diminish any office gossip and does not require a newly terminated employee to leave your office in front of their co-workers immediately after being fired.

Pick a date for the meeting that’s best for you. Experts disagree on when you should fire an employee. Some say early in the week, while others say early in the day is best no matter the time of the week.

Some wait until the end of the day Friday because it lessens any disruption to the workday, especially if your work crew is particularly gossipy. But then your employee has the entire weekend to think about being fired, which can backfire. The weekend offers newly terminated employees wonderful time to relax and consider what’s next, but some might show up Monday morning ready for a fight.

If the person you must let go threatens retaliation (or you have reason to fear they will), plan to have a witness who can be at the meeting as well. You may need to work a third person’s schedule availability into account when you schedule a time to speak with the employee you are terminating.

Plan whatever you think will work best for your business by putting your company interests first. The best thing is that your company’s workflow is undisturbed, and letting an employee go who won’t help your team meet business goals will only strengthen your chances of reaching those goals. Don’t feel bad if the person is lovely and you sympathize with them, merely explain why this job isn’t the right fit.

Be Upfront

Give your employee notice and schedule a meeting with them. Usually, a few hours’ of notice or a day is preferred. Prepare what you want to say and take the time you need to check any facts or figures on performance reports or time sheets.

The day of the meeting let your employee know what’s going on within 30 seconds of them entering the room. Don’t allow the tension or anxiety they must be feeling to increase anymore. The bad news is bad news. No firing situation isn’t at least a little uncomfortable for both you and your former employee. Avoid dragging out the process any more than you must.

Explain Why and When

The employee knows they’re being fired, now let them know the reasons you’ve come to this conclusion. Explain all the relevant details, such as when they are expected to leave the office, how much severance pay (if any) they will receive and when, and who (if anyone) they might ask for a job reference in the future.

If the employee didn’t meet the goals you previously set together, point that out and show them any performance reviews that might back up your claims. Stick to the facts. Don’t say that you understand how they feel, listen to how they’re taking the news and keep a box of tissues at the ready.

Have a plan in place for how to fire an employee and have them collect their things. The time between being fired and leaving on your last day of work can be a rollercoaster for everyone, so make sure your team isn’t on a tight deadline and protect the company by making sure your property is collected before their last day.

Speak with Precision

Most employees probably won’t realize they’ve done anything wrong or that they deserve to be fired in the first place, so you must be sure you speak using precise language. If there is nothing a person can do or say to avoid your decision to fire them, make that known.

You’ve thought long and hard about this, so tell them why you’ve made your decision. Explain that it’s not about personal feelings, but instead, show examples of their poor performance. If you are met with objections, merely say that your mind is made up and the decision is final.

business partners

Stay Calm and Collected

Many people will react to the loss of a job with anger. Be prepared to diffuse the situation while remaining professional in your calm demeanor. No matter what happens, do not allow yourself to respond back with rage, get sucked into a heated argument, and never take anything that’s said personally.

Allowing yourself to argue or talk about the fairness of your decision won’t help anything, and it could actually open you up to legal issues.

Speak to a Lawyer If Necessary

If your employee signed a contract when they were hired, you might need to speak to a lawyer before you can terminate them. Contracts often have reasons for termination listed you must follow if a violation occurs. Any people who are on medical or maternity leave also can’t be fired, so if any situation seems sensitive, it may be in your company’s best interest to consult a professional and make sure your actions are entirely legal.

Firing someone is never fun, and you will probably never really feel right about it. A happy business, however, is one that functions well together. If your employee isn’t the right fit or is slacking off, your honesty is the best for everyone. While none of these tips on how to fire an employee will make the process a total breeze, it will make the termination process as smooth as possible.