Employee Dismissal

Immediate or Delayed?

Employee Dismissal: Should dismissal be immediate or delayed? And, are you better off announcing new appointments before or after getting rid of old staff?

Employee dismissal is never easy, but it is something you will most likely have to confront at some stage in your career. There are really only three reasons you are faced with this difficult situation.

Why Dismiss?

  1. The employee has committed a crime against your organisation.
  2. The employee has proved to be a total non-performer – they just don’t get the results expected of them.
  3. You have to reduce your staff, because of external economic conditions.

Navigating this part of your managerial responsibilities is an important part of performance management.

Employee Has Committed a Crime

If you catch an employee committing a crime against your organisation, you have no other choice than to dismiss.

There may be exceptions to this. If the crime was unintended and occurred because of ignorance on the part of the employee, you can consider giving them a second chance. Just make sure they are fully aware of what they did and how to avoid it in future.

If the crime was blatant and you have firm evidence of it, you should let them go.

  • In this case, you should march them out of the premises immediately.
  • Give them time to collect their personal possessions, but do not keep them on any longer than this. Immediate employee dismissal is vital in this situation.

Having been “caught out”, if you leave them in the job, the chances are they will only create more havoc in your area.

The Non-Performer

When you review the performance of an employee and find that they are simply not producing the required results, the first thing to do is see if their talents would be better suited to another position in you company.

If this is not feasible, or if they still under-perform in the alternate position, it’s time for employee dismissal.

In this case, it is not so clear whether to dismiss them immediately, or to keep them on whilst you find a replacement.

  • It largely depends upon how well they were covering their post.
  • In most cases you will find that you are better off severing the relationship immediately.

Their severance pay will tide them over until they can find another job. And, if they were not really contributing to your team performance, their removal will actually improve the performance of the others they were working with.

See Who Are Your Top Performers? under the heading of “A Surprising Fact”.

The Vacated Position

Other staff may have to work harder to cover the hole that employee dismissal leaves. Realise, however, that the hole was actually therebefore you fired them.

If you are firing immediately, it’s far better to simply pay the exiting employee their severance package and march them out that same day.

Leaving them in place to “keep the position functioning” is bad logic. Whether criminal or non-performer, they were not actually performing the job to any degree of satisfaction, so you won’t miss them!


If you are faced with the situation where you have to reduce staff to protect the future existence of your organisation, there is a way you can do this effectively and with the least possible impact on your remaining employees.

This is covered in a separate article. See Downsizing Strategies for more detailed information on this important topic.

The Resigning Employee

This is quite a different situation.

  • If they are a non-performer, follow the advice above.
  • If they are actually doing their job well, you should keep them on as long as possible, whilst you find a replacement and have the departing employee train them.

In the second case above you are losing a valuable resource. If at all possible, don’t let them go until they have trained a replacement. It’s not always possible, as hiring a new person may take longer than the incumbent is prepared to wait. But, do your best to accomplish this.

The knowledge the departing employee has about the job is gold! At a minimum, get them to do a full Job Write-Up before they go – even if they are not able to train the new person on this.

See Orienting a New Employee under the heading of “Job Write-Up” for more details on the Job Write-Up process.

There is one exception to this. If the departing employee has access to sensitive company information and they are going to a competitor, you may want to dismiss them immediately to protect your data.

Of course, if they planned it right (and were that way inclined), they would probably have already stolen that “sensitive information” before they handed in their resignation…

The Simple Answer

  1. Immediate employee dismissal is totally appropriate for criminals and non-performers.
  2. When downsizing, follow the advice in Downsizing Strategies.
  3. Hold onto your good people who are departing for as long as possible (unless you want to protect your sensitive company data).

As far as the timing of new employee appointments is concerned, you can do this as soon as you dismiss the criminal or non-performer, or as soon as you accept the resignation letter of your good performers.