How to Schedule a Termination Meeting

 Firing someone is tough.  We all hate it and don’t want to do it.  So, we spend lots of time thinking through what we’ll say during the actual firing interview.

But we don’t give much thought to how to schedule the actual meeting.  When this is mishandled, it makes the situation much more painful, hurts you, hurts the person you’re firing, and hurts the rest of the team.

So, this article explores how to schedule a termination meeting the right way.  Here’s how:

  1. Don’t make it on a Friday
  2. Don’t give advance warning
  3. Make it at the end of the day
  4. Rip off the bandaid quickly

 Don’t make it on a Friday

The reason to choose any day but Friday is clear.  Friday is the end of the work week.  There’s no action to take; no action that’s even possible.  The employment insurance office isn’t open; businesses aren’t taking applications on the weekend.

All the person can do is go home and tell their family and feel terrible about life and stew and feel depressed all weekend.

Think of how much better the situation is when the termination meeting is scheduled for a Tuesday.  There’s lots of action to take on Tuesday.

Employment offices are open, businesses are taking applications.  Contacts are at work and available to take calls.

It makes so much more sense to give the person the ability to take action immediately after they are terminated.  Action reduces depression and conquers fear.  Give them that ability.

The Professional Leadership Institute provides training on termination of employment and offers a free preview.

Don’t give advance warning

The worst (and most common) way to approach this is to tell the person that you want to see them in your office at the end of the day.  Or that they need to report to HR at the end of the day.

They sense what’s coming and spend the rest of the day in dread.  This is bad for a few reasons.

First, the employee has a completely unproductive day.  Since they’re worrying all day about being fired, they are not getting anything done.

Second, the employee is hurting the team all day long.  They are talking about their fears and spreading negativity about you and the company and the situation.  Needless.

Third, think about how cruel this is.  Why make an employee dread a termination meeting all day long?  It’s like pulling the wings off a fly.

So, the best way to approach it is to come and collect the employee yourself.  Simply say, “Employee, can I see you in the boardroom for a minute?”

Giving advance warning is cruel, inefficient, and unnecessary.

Make it at the end of the day

Guarding the dignity of every employee is important, and never more so than when scheduling a termination meeting.

When the meeting is scheduled for the beginning of middle of the day, the employee gets to make the ‘walk of shame’ back to their workstation.  Tears may be present, and they will be obviously upset.  Dignity flies out the window.

You will find that the rest of the team resents this sort of treatment, even of a poor contributor.

A better approach is to wait until the very end of the day to schedule the termination meeting when people are going home.  After a quick conversation in the boardroom, the person can cry privately if they wish, and collect their things at their own pace.

Dignity is spared, and a difficult situation is handled as well as it can be.

Rip off the band aid quickly

When you get in the room, you’re not going to be spending a lot of time talking.  This meeting lasts for sure under 10 minutes.  Even 10 minutes is too long.

You’re going to get right to the point and say something like, “Employee, I have some tough news.  I’ve decided that today is going to be your last day with us.”

There’s a lot more to consider when you’re in the room, and you can read more about what to say and how to structure a good firing interview here:

How to Prepare for Firing an Employee


In summary:

When firing someone, we think a lot about what we’re going to say when we get in the room with them.  Their possible reactions cause us a lot of concern too.  But we don’t think much about the right way to schedule a termination meeting.  Here’s a quick and simple summary of how to do it:

  1. Don’t make it on a Friday
  2. Don’t give advance warning
  3. Make it at the end of the day
  4. Rip off the bandaid quickly

Man in Library

Trevor Throness is a speaker, consultant, and author of “The Power of People Skills.”  He is also co-founder and senior instructor at

Find more about “The Power of People Skills” here:

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