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Submitted by sebags on



I have to fire someone because they lied to me and violated my trust.

I heard the Layoffs podacast but, as you said there, this is not a layoff. 

I would appreciate any guidance and help as to how to do it compasionately and well.




theresaja's picture
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Hi, My department got re-organized and after almost 20 years in that department, my position and two others were terminated.  I need a referral to an employment attorney in Oregon asap to help me respond to a severance letter by October 17, 2023.  No, they didn't follow Manager Tools practices.  They don't believe in them.  So, I quietly practiced your methods as I could.  They say the terminations isn't for cause and we did nothing wrong.  Meanwhile the clock is ticking on the time allowed to respond to the severance letter.  

mkirk's picture
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Hi sebags,

Well, if your decision is made, why is the person is still employed ? That sounds harsh but what I mean is, to fire someone for one instance of unacceptable behaviour is OK but the bar for unacceptable behaviour is pretty high in that case. I'm thinking of a public lie that maybe puts somone else at risk of physical harm or risks significant reputational damage to your organisation. In those situation's, our responsability to our colleagues and organisation overrides the lying indivdual's feelings and they get fired as quickly and as compassionately as possible. But they get fired. 

If the lying is not this egregious, then I would suggest assume positive intent* and start on a process of feedback* - systemic feedback* - late stage coaching* - termination. It takes time and means more documentation and work for you (sorry) but is the best way to give the individual the opportunity to change their behaviour, clarity over why you're doing what your doing and protects both you and your organisation from comeback/litigation/negative outcomes. It also sets a great example to the rest of your team which will stand you in good stead should you ever have to deal with this type of behaviour again in the future. And, finally, it's the right thing to do, IMHO. 

I don't know if it is useful in this situation but I have found it helpful to imagine one of my children as the lying person and think about how I, as their parent, would want their manager to act. Sort of concentrates the mind, you know ;-)

It's a tough one but hope it goes as well as possible, whatever you decide to do.



*There are podcasts on all of these subjects, I think you can just put them into the search bar.

LEmerson's picture

There are a couple principles I followed when I had to fire someone. First is to let them know as soon as it's feasible. I've known of employers who try to time it for one reason or another, and I don't believe that's fair. If you decide they're terminated keeping them on longer than necessary could result in them missing opportunities. It also rips off the bandaid and gets it over with.

I also go straight to the nitty gritty in the discussion. I was in a meeting with a colleague with an employee we had to let go and my colleague tried to be nice and gentle, kind of beating around the bush. Pretty quickly I could tell the employee figured out exactly what was going on. I jumped in and delivered the news. From then on I'm not abrupt and try not to be harsh, but I spit it out just like I'd want someone else to spit it out if they were firing me.

sebags's picture
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Thanks everyone for your suggestions!

This is a great community!