By | Published On: June 24, 2024 |

Letting someone go (AKA firing someone) is not easy for many of us and can bring about feelings of guilt and discomfort.

Here are some steps to help manage these emotions and handle the situation professionally and empathetically:

Ensure it’s justified

  • Objective criteria: Ensure that the decision to fire someone is based on clear, objective criteria such as performance metrics, violations of company policy, or consistent behavioral issues.


  • Have thorough documentation of the reasons for termination, including prior warnings, performance reviews, and any steps taken to help the employee improve.

Prepare yourself emotionally

  • Acknowledge feelings: Recognize and accept that feeling guilty is a natural response. It shows you care about your employees and their well-being.
  • Self-compassion: Remind yourself that making difficult decisions is part of your role and is necessary for the health of the organization and its team members.

Conduct the process respectfully

  • Private setting: Have the conversation in a private and respectful setting.
  • Be direct and honest: Clearly and concisely explain the reasons for the termination. Avoid sugar-coating or being vague.
  • Express empathy: Acknowledge the difficulty of the situation and show empathy for the employee’s feelings.

Provide support

  • Severance package: If possible, offer a severance package to help ease the transition.
  • Career counseling: Offer outplacement services or career counseling to help the employee find new opportunities.
  • References: If appropriate, offer to provide a reference or recommendation for future employment.

Reflect on the decision

  • Learn from the experience: Reflect on the process and consider what could be done differently in the future to avoid similar situations, such as improved hiring practices or better support and training for employees.
  • Seek feedback: If possible, get feedback from HR or a mentor to ensure the process was handled as fairly and respectfully as possible.

Support your team:

  • Communicate with the team: Address the remaining team members about the situation without breaching confidentiality. Reassure them and explain any steps being taken to prevent future issues.
  • Maintain morale: Show support for your team and maintain open lines of communication to address any concerns or anxieties they may have.


  • Talk about it: Discuss your feelings with a trusted colleague, mentor, or counselor to process your emotions.
  • Healthy activities: Engage in activities that help you relax and manage stress, such as exercise, meditation, or hobbies.

Remember, firing someone is a decision that impacts both parties. By handling the process with care, empathy, and professionalism, you can minimize feelings of guilt and ensure that the decision is as fair and supportive as possible for the employee.