How to Deal With Dismissal Meetings – 10 key tips

A recent TikTok Video of an employee being dismissed has gone viral, prompting criticism for the way the dismissal was handled, so if you find yourself having to dismiss someone, there are steps to take to make it easier for all parties.

How to deal with dismissal meetings - ten key tips

Brittany Pietsch believed she knew what was coming as her colleague had been dismissed 30 minutes earlier, so she decided to record her meeting.

The meeting was held online, with two people she had not met before and despite Brittany repeatedly asking, they did not explain why she was being let go.  Cloudfare’s CEO, Matthew Prince later responded via X “We fired ~40 sales people out of over 1,500 in our go to market org. That’s a normal quarter. When we’re doing performance management right, we can often tell within 3 months or less of a sales hire, even during the holidays, whether they’re going to be successful or not.”

In my opinion, dismissing 40 people out of 1,500 in one quarter should never be “normal”.  That’s not 40 names. That’s 40 human beings.


Reasons for Dismissal

Under the Employment Rights Act 1996, UK employers can only dismiss for one the following reasons:

  1. Conduct
  2. Capability or performance
  3. Statutory illegality/breach of statutory restrictions
  4. Redundancy
  5. Some other substantial reason (SOSR)

It is essential to follow a fair procedure and this blog is aimed purely at the dismissal meeting itself. For more information about reasons to dismiss and procedure, please contact me.

Key Steps

  1. Dismissal should not come as a surprise

In the video, Brittany says that she was constantly being given positive reassurance from her manager and she felt her dismissal came out of the blue.  Clear, open, ongoing feedback is important to help employees grow.  Discuss and find ways to support them to improve because dismissal should be a last resort.


  1. Be Prepared

If you have decided dismissal is your only option, it is essential to plan ahead.  What are you going to say and what are they likely to say to you?  How will you respond?  What will happen to their notice periods and what payments will they receive?

Consider what you will do once the meeting is finished.  Do they still have access to your social media or other important accounts?  If they drive a company car which you will ask them to leave, how will they get home? Is there any important information you need?


  1. Involve the right people

The right people must be involved and that would usually mean the employee’s manager plus one other.  If the manager does not have the experience, contact me for guidance.  Alternatively, give them the role of note taker so that at least the manager is available to answer questions and is seen to be taking ownership of the decision.


  1. Break the news in person

Never break the news in writing. You have no control over when someone is going to read the message and how they will interpret it or if they will even respond.  You do not know the situation they are in when they read it and have no way to react to any change in circumstances.

Online meetings should be a last resort.  You have no control over who else is in the room and your employee can simply hang up.  Once the camera has been switched off, you have no way of knowing what their true reaction is.  As uncomfortable as it may be, an in-person meeting is by far the best way to break the news.


  1. Treat everyone with respect

Never lose sight of the fact that they are a human being.  They deserve to be treated with respect, humanity and compassion.

Have the conversation in a confidential room, where others cannot see what is happening.  Hire a room, if necessary.  Switch off your phone and make sure you will not be disturbed.  Have some tissues close by, just in case.

Think about how they will exit the room with dignity when the meeting has finished.  How can you make it easier for them to retrieve their personal possessions?


  1. Pace Yourself

You may have been dreading this meeting for days and want to get it over and done with.  However, that gives the employee little time to process.  Whenever I prepare a guidance for a meeting, I deliberately include questions to the employee.  These are designed to provide breaks and give them the chance to speak.


  1. Collect equipment and keys before they leave

If they have key items of Company property, such as keys, laptops, security passes, make arrangements for these to be collected before the end of the meeting.  This can be so much harder once they have left the building.


  1. Capture everything in writing

Take minutes of the meeting as these could prove vital at an employment tribunal.

Send a letter of confirmation as soon as possible. This should include the outcome of the meeting, pay arrangements and what to do with any remaining equipment.  If applicable, send them a copy of any restrictive covenants from their contract.  Please contact me for help with this.

If the employee has been dismissed as a result of disciplinary action or redundancy, they should be told of their right to appeal.


  1. Don’t make them work their notice

If your employee was not right for your role before you dismissed them then why would you expect an upset version of them to work effectively for you?


  1. Inform their colleagues

Colleagues should not be left to wonder why someone is no longer working there.  Tell your team that the person has left the business but never say they have been dismissed as that should remain confidential.


Dismissing an employee, for whatever reason, is not something to be taken lightly. Please contact me before taking any action.

Categories Uncategorized