Terminating an employee is never an easy task, regardless of the reason. Knowing that you have the potential to seriously impact another person's livelihood might cause you to second-guess your decision to discharge an employee with a bad attitude. However, an employee who has an attitude that affects productivity and the overall dynamics of the workforce can be toxic to the work environment. Handle the termination decisively and know that it's in the best interest of the company.


All employment actions -- hiring, promotions, performance ratings, discipline, training, resignations and terminations -- should be documented. It's essential that you create a paper trail to support your organization's decision. Gather the documentation upon which you based your decision to terminate the employee. Your documentation is likely to include disciplinary warnings and performance appraisals that contain statements about the employee's behavior that doesn't meet your company's expectations. Your documentation should also include any agreements the employee made to work on areas that needed improvement.

Workplace Behavior

Review the employee's behavior and concrete reasons for the termination. Always focus on the employee's behavior and not the attitude. Classifying employee attitudes is too subjective a factor. Stick to identifying employee behavior to justify employment actions such as termination. Examples of such behavior include insubordination, verbal confrontations, intentionally poor job performance, sabotage, and instigating negative workplace discussions with co-workers about employees and leadership.


Talk to your human resources department about termination matters, such as the final paycheck, continuation of benefits, and access to company property and premises. Compile a list of company equipment that the employee will need to return upon his termination. If you believe the termination meeting might become adversarial, arrange for security personnel to be on call to assist in handling an emotional reaction from the employee. Meet with the employee's supervisor about the termination meeting and discuss the roles you'll each play. Prepare the termination paperwork and summon the employee to the human resources department. If possible, handle the termination in the final hours of the last workday of the week.

Employee Meeting

Greet the employee and invite her to have a seat. Get right to the point about why you've summoned her to your office. Explain that her workplace behavior is unacceptable and that you have decided to terminate her employment. Provide her with copies of documentation that supports the company's decision and ask her to sign the termination paperwork. When asked, give concrete examples of workplace behaviors that violate company policies and documentation that supports previous attempts to correct her behavior. If the employee refuses to sign the termination paperwork, note her refusal on the signature line and provide the terminated employee with a copy.


Demonstrate professional courtesy as you end the termination meeting. Advise the employee of final matters, such as when he can expect his final paycheck, how to continue health coverage on his own and who to talk to about rollover of his retirement savings accounts. Tell him that you'll have his personal belongings from his workspace packed and sent to him, and verify his current address. Extend a handshake and wish him well in future endeavors.