View Full Version : Nicest way to fire someone?

6th Apr 2004, 14:51
I have recently inherited a secretary that has the IQ and wherewithal roughly on par with a soggy cornflake & unfortunately for her, she's getting the bullet.

She's a nice enough kid but is terminally thick, can't spell & wouldn't know a pleasant telephone manner if it jumped up and smacked her around the ears. (Not to mention a chronic lack of thru'pennys) :E KIDDING...

But seriously, what's the most agreeable (for them) way of firing an employee (A cannon, whilst quite possibly technically correct, is just not feasible in this day and age Mr Draper...) I don't really want to hurt her feelings, but I'm not going to tell her lies either. It's sometimes crap being the boss.

I'd be interested in hearing any relevant stories from the JB collective.


6th Apr 2004, 14:54
First thing to check is that you are allowed to fire her! These days it can be astonishingly hard to get rid of an employee if they haven't been given a whole series of assessments that can give evidence that they have demonstrably failed to do the job. Flying Lawyer , if you're out there, how are you on employment law?

PPRuNe Radar
6th Apr 2004, 14:56

If she's a PPRuNer, then tell her here :)

6th Apr 2004, 14:57
I've found it a legal minefield trying to sack someone for being incompetant...I'd give her the facts...ie pull her finger out else she's going, regular appraisals to see how she's coping with the new 'be nice & efficient' way of working. If she's gotta go then there isn't an easy way, but if you've warned her & she knows she's on probation then it shouldn't be too much of a surprise for her.

Not one of my witty-est answers I'll be the first to admit.

If you want to be more amusing about it....offer her a permanent unpaid break...starting immediately, and explain she has to accept the offer else shell be sacked.

(and if she's fit...send her my way... I could do with a fit PA - (brains and good telephone manner are NOT important for the jobs I have in mind) ):E

6th Apr 2004, 15:00

I know what you mean! But I've made sure that I've crossed all the t's and dotted the i's with regard to written warnings about below par performance etc & am fairly sure that I can make the sacking stand up to scrutiny/unfair dismissal etc.

It still sucks & whilst I've done it before a few times - it doesn't get any easier.

TC – I hear ya, but she has a bit of a "head like a foot" syndrome so I probably wont inflict her on you!

Ho hum


surely not
6th Apr 2004, 15:00
I take it you drew her shortcomings to her attention?
Did you conduct any tests at the interview?
Have you provided any training or remedial action thereby givig her the chance to improve?
More importantly have you given her a deadline by which the improvement should be in place?

If yes to all these,................. JFDI

edited to remove typos in case you get upset !!

6th Apr 2004, 15:01
Line her and a few other secretaries up in a line. Then announce, "Alright, everyone that still has a job here take one step forward." As she does, shout "Where the **** do you think you're going, <insert name>?" Problem solved:E


6th Apr 2004, 15:04
you could always hire Donald Trump - he's pretty good at saying "You're FIRED!"


6th Apr 2004, 15:15
Fishtits .....

Delegation, the secret of good management

ie .. get some other bugga to do it for you :rolleyes: :cool:

6th Apr 2004, 15:28
Don't Pi$$ about. If you're doing it in the Uk, do it as follows:

If it's redundancy, bring her in & tell her. Tell her straight & on a Friday afternoon. That way, she ain't moping about for a week. Also, if she's as useless as you say, then get her out. If she's entitled to notice, put her on gardening leave to keep her away from anyone important, customers, the boss etc. If it is redundancy, then you MUST, MUST, offer the opportunity to consult with HR in respect of finding a new job etc. You must also set out the reasons for her redundancy in writing and give her the opportunity to raise any objection formally with HR. Also, do not make her redundant then hire a better replacement. You will find your self infront of a tribunal quicker than you can say Bolleaux.

If it's sacking, then you can only summarily dismiss her for gross misconduct (assuning your company rules allow). Otherwise, you will have to go through the formal disciplinary procedure and do it by the book. Anything else and you will find yourself in front of a tribunal quicker than you can say Bolleaux.

The question in my mind is why are you asking on Prune? If you work for a big enough business to have secretaries, then you presumably have a clued in HR dept (a contradiction in terms I know) so why not go there first?

Also, you may wish to consider a precluding redundnacy deal. I.e. offer a lump sum to go now, never come back & agree to forego any further redress such as a tribunal. I took this last year & as much as I wanted to stick it to the Fnuckers, 20 grand is a great anaesthetic.

6th Apr 2004, 16:23
PP & Timeout

Thanks for your comments - they make sense - I understand what you're saying & as I have indicated, she has had the required number of written warnings within the specified period & is still not up to scratch. I feel that her dismissal is warranted and will stand up to tribunal enquiry etc.

However, I'm not looking to PPrune for HR bullshit about how to sack someone - I know that already - I'm looking to PPruners for humane ways to tell someone that they are incompetent & (now) jobless.

As I've said, I have done it in the past, but never terribly tactfully, more a case of "Sorry, you just don't have the required aptitude for the job" etc and I usually end up feeling like a bit of a cnut. I know it's just part of the job, but it's a really shitty part that I'd rather not have to do, or alternatively do it well & with a bit of humanity.

The old delegation chestnut! I could do this but I don't like taking the easy way out when it comes to staff issues. It also ensures that I know exactly how the dismissal was handled should a dispute or unfair dismissal claim arise.

Anyone know of any beautiful, intelligent, large chested women looking for a career within heady world of architectural admin?


6th Apr 2004, 16:44

What's the salary and where are you based? I confirm I qualify on two of your requirements.

6th Apr 2004, 17:09
As I've said, I have done it in the past, but never terribly tactfully, more a case of "Sorry, you just don't have the required aptitude for the job" etc and I usually end up feeling like a bit of a cnut. I know it's just part of the job, but it's a really shitty part that I'd rather not have to do, or alternatively do it well & with a bit of humanity.

Well done for wanting to do it better, but I don't think there really is a good way to fire somebody. I actually think your "Sorry, you just don't have the required apptitude for the job" is pretty good.

Telling someone they are not upto doing a job hits at the core of their being, their self-worth and self-respect.

Best to do it quickly and cleanly. You might prefix your "Sorry you just dont..." with "You know we've been reviewing your performance and you've had written warnings about certain aspects of you job performance, well your performanace still isn't adequate".

You could end on note of hopefulness, e.g. "I'm sure you will find something to suit you".

More importantly don't get into a discussion about the whys and wherefores of the situation. By the time you have the discussion she should know what the likely purpose if it is - if she doesn't, you haven't followed the procedures closely enough.

6th Apr 2004, 17:13
OK - you've done everything by the book so... best way to do it?

There is no good way and whatever you do you are going to feel like a right doos.

You must have your preparation done beforehand and there must be somebody else in the company whom you can trust to tell. Somebody has to prepare a cheque and P45 (cards) for her and somebody will have to lock her out of her computer whilst she is in with you.

Have somebody else present in the room with you and her when you do it. Someone esle from the company whom you think she would be comfortable with and also to witness that the matter is conducted fairly.

You have to call her in and explain that even after warnings and retraining you feel that her work is not what you were hoping for and that you are going to have to let her go.

Explain that you have a cheque for her which is a month's pay in lieu of notice and what else you have to and want to pay her (also check whether any of it can be paid tax free). Tell her that X (person in room with you) will help her clear her desk. Wish her well for the future and explain that she will get a good reference.

Hope it goes well.



6th Apr 2004, 17:32
A lot depends on whether the person is in a union or not. If unionized it all goes by the collective agreement.

Regardless, there is no nice way. The best way is to be as kind as you can be in the circumstances and totally factual, remembering you are dealing with a human being with all their frailties. Good idea is to have another management member in the room as an observer (read witness), not a participant.

These days references consist of confirming that the person was employed by the company, their position and length of service, particularly when someone is terminated for cause or non-performance. Anything more can lead to possible legal action by future employers if other added comments prove to be not plausible.

6th Apr 2004, 17:56
Send her a txt message. It's the modern way, dontcha know.

Yr sckd, cya.

6th Apr 2004, 18:10
All good advice and duly noted.

Ratsarrse - dunno the leagalities of the 'auld, bullet by sms (would you have to give 2 txt warnings in 6 months first or just a picture message of you handing her a Doc Marten - perhaps flying laywer could advise?!)

********* - which two exactly....

6th Apr 2004, 19:00
Only fired someone once. Was a catering manager and one of the cleaners was freaking out the ladies in the loos. He had to go, and one tried to be nice about it. Next thing I knew, the schizo society was on my back for 'unfair' dismissal...... you can't win, mate

6th Apr 2004, 19:03
Simple - this my have been previously posted

Most contracts have a 3/6 month probation period.

Use that.


6th Apr 2004, 19:05
A ritual sacking is a moment to be savoured. Invariably in my experience the hapless creature has it coming.

One is reminded of a recent incident after a belligerent had ignored all safety protocols and managed to loose a digit after placing it in a seemingly impossible position in a risk assessed machine – guarded up to the hilt.

“ Yer fired!”

“What fired – I don’t fink so mate and yer owe me 5000 quid”

“ What £5000 for a finger – you’re joking”

“Yer – well whatta about me tattoo?

“What tattoo?”

“Well mate look at this” he said – pushing two grubby hands forward – fingers outstretched”


As I said – enjoy the moment.

6th Apr 2004, 19:35
Fair enuff FT (Best user name 2004?) Do it swift & on a Friday FT. Friday gets her out & into the weekend for a think & if you prevaricate, you'll only prolong the agony. Tell her straight. It's only a job! She'll get another one, praps one she can do even!

I've sacked bundles of people over the years, not a badge of honour by any means & it's never easy but if you flap about, you'll make it worse.
Edit: I once had a boss who had to row 50 guys out in one sitting. Trouble was there were 100 to choose from, so he ended up tossing coins infront of them. He went on to great things. Funny old world.

6th Apr 2004, 19:50
Sound job PP.

Makes sense to leave it 'till Friday - I'll use the band-aid approach - quick and painless as possible.


6th Apr 2004, 22:55
There's no easy way to do it, other than be pretty direct - she's not fulfilling your requirements for someone in the position of your PA, and you feel she may be better suited to <insert appropriate role here>

Just had to downsize a dozen or so, never easy but after the low point when you actually tell people, the relief (on all sides) is tangible.

Offered the downsizees employment coaching, which I feel will be of great benefit to several, including me.

Good luck - SLF

Mr Chips
6th Apr 2004, 23:02
Whats with all the serious answers? Must be some good things to say when you do the deed...

I suggest...

Mavis, I don't know how we would cope without you.. but as of Monday we are going to try....


6th Apr 2004, 23:07
Or you could promote her so she has to move areas and becomes someone elses problem - I'm sure that happens.

7th Apr 2004, 01:59
If she's got a sense of humour, use the old "knock, knock..."joke:

You : "Knock knock"
She: "Who's there?"
You "Not you, come Monday"

The Nr Fairy
7th Apr 2004, 06:49

Are you planning to do it this Friday ?

7th Apr 2004, 08:58
Whatever you do don't start talking about things next week and then stop in mid sentence and say, "Oh no, of course, that wont apply to you" or some-such, well not until after you have told her.

On the nice side you might see if there are any college courses she could take to help her and make a few suggestions?

7th Apr 2004, 09:40
Nr Fairy,

It's actually going to have to be tomorrow as I'm closing our office for Good Friday (I know, I know, not for her boom boom...)

I'll be sure to let you know how badly it goes.

I think I might go down the route of suggesting alternative careers for her focusing on some of her (relative) strengths. Although I don't know if there are many professions that have chatting and bad spelling as major requirements, although a professional pilot may be an option....:E:ouch:

I'll keep you posted.



Shaggy Sheep Driver
7th Apr 2004, 11:57
I once had a boss who had to row 50 guys out in one sitting. Trouble was there were 100 to choose from, so he ended up tossing coins infront of them. He went on to great things. Funny old world.

Reminds me of the tale not about sacking, but about recruitment:

MD eyes a massive pile of CVs on the table awaiting inspection - about 100 applications for 1 position. "Bloody 'ell, we haven't got time to read all that lot", he says, so he divides the pile into two. One pile remaining on the table, to be read. The other pile he unceremoniously tosses into the waste basket.

"That lot are just unlucky", he says. "The last thing we need around here are unlucky employees".:)


7th Apr 2004, 13:58
Give her this list and hope she trys them all!


1. Tell your boss the reason you were late was because you fancied a shag before work.

2. Stumble back from lunch, two hours late, pissed as a fart chanting 'The Venga Bus is coming........"

3. Ask the chief executive for some Rizlas.

4. Grow a cannabis plant on your desk.

5. Tell the boss you'll "Send the boys round" - if they don't authorise your pay rise.

6. Admit you traded in your company car for a two week shag-fest in Ibiza.

7. Set up your own S&M dungeon in the stationery cupboard.

8. Bring a sleeping bag to work for those little afternoon naps!

9. Pawn your computer because you're skint till pay day.

10. Ask the boss's wife "Have you noticed that one of your husbands balls hangs lower than the other".

11. Call the boss to your desk, call him "Sonny" and tell him his work isn't up to scratch.

12. Start a one-man/woman Mexican wave every time someone leaves their desk.

1) At lunchtime, sit in your parked car and point a hair dryer at passing cars to see if they slow down.

2) Page yourself over the intercom. (Don't disguise your voice.)

3) Insist that your e-mail address be: '[email protected]'
'[email protected]'

4) Every time someone asks you to do something, ask if they want fries with that.

5) Encourage your colleagues to join you in a little synchronised chair dancing.

6) Put your waste bin on your desk and label it 'IN.' (This is a must do')

7) Develop an unnatural fear of staplers.

Put decaf in the coffee maker for 3 weeks. Once everyone has gotten over their caffeine addictions, switch to espresso.

9) Reply to everything someone says with, "That's what you think."

10) Finish all your sentences with "In accordance with the prophecy."

11) Adjust the tint on your monitor so that the brightness level lights up the entire working area. Insist to others that you like it that way.

12) Don't use any punctuation

13) As often as possible, skip rather than walk.

14) Ask people what sex they are.

15) Specify that your drive through order is to go."

16) Sing along at the opera.

17) Go to a poetry recital and ask why the poems don't rhyme.

18) Find out where your boss shops and buy exactly the same outfits.Wear them one day after your boss does. (This is especially effective if your boss is the opposite gender.

19) Send e-mail to the rest of the company to tell them what you're doing. For example: "If anyone needs me, I'll be in the bathroom."

20) Put mosquito netting around your cubicle.

21) Five days in advance,tell your friends you can't attend their party 'cause you're not in the mood.

22) Send this e-mail to everyone in your address book, even if they sent it to you.

7th Apr 2004, 16:08
Ive been in your secretarys position before, not for the same reasons but there has been a couple of places where they wanted rid of me.
The most effective way to sack her i reckon would be to keep giving her final warnings and just basicaly hound her about her mistakes, this happened me and eventualy shell get sick of the job and just leave

7th Apr 2004, 16:17
Break it to her gently. Tell her the good news, i.e. say that she can now take her holidays whenever she likes, for as long as she likes...

Or just relocate the company but don't tell her. :E

Lance Murdoch
7th Apr 2004, 17:19
Dont know much about the legal position but be careful how you go about it.
Ive been fired once in my life, the boss who fired me was very smug and even told me he was doing me a favour (probably true as events transpired but not exactly what you want to hear when youve just been sacked). They also didnt have the balls to tell me the real reason that Id been sacked and told me it was down to my performance (or lack of it), this would have been a good reason except for the fact that I had had ****** all work to do for the last six weeks:rolleyes:
My point is, you are best being honest and straight with the person. Youve got to face the fact that you are not going to be her most favourite person but after time she wont think any less of you if you treat her fairly.
Because of the way I was treated by this company and boss I still slate them at every possible opportunity and would refuse to purchase any of their products even five years after the event.

The Nr Fairy
7th Apr 2004, 18:37
I've been in the position of having to "let someone go" before - a lady taken on to do a job purely because she spoke Japanese, but unfortunately she had none of the other skills required to do the job. I and the HR lady spoke to her on the last day of her 3 month trial period, which made life easier legally.

And has anyone heard of an infamous event called the "Cabletron breakfast" ? Happened before my time with the firm, but essentially a whole bunch of people were asked to attend a special breakfast, and were fired en masse. Caused some ructions !

7th Apr 2004, 20:53
Heaven forbid :uhoh:

Remind me not to apply for a job in architectural admin!


8th Apr 2004, 00:58
You could always hire another secretary..........and deathmatch them.

Winner gets to keep the job.

(Deathmatch. The only answer.)

9th Apr 2004, 19:21
Ominous silence.......

...so what happened?


10th Apr 2004, 00:42
Having been made redundant a couple of times, I would like to have been told the truth. On one occasion, My engineering manager called me into the office and gave me two letters. One said "based on your assessments you have been selected for redundancy". The other said "Assessment - outstanding". I could not committ that level of hipocracy.

11th Apr 2004, 19:04
So what happened? Did you fire her? Was it in a nice way? Did she say anything nice to you after? Has she read this set of Post's? Did she know it was coming?

Please dont leave us in suspence!!!!!:uhoh: