Firing an employee is such a dreadful task that most people try to avoid because of the terrible feelings that follow. Even if the person deserves to be fired, the consequences of your action will likely make you feel bad. The feelings even get worst if you happen to be firing an employee for the first time owing to specific reasons. It could be that the person’s job responsibilities have outgrown their capability or some certain unethical conduct. Whatever reason it is, the thought of firing someone can be disturbing.

However, if you have given the individual several warnings, called attention to their professional shortcomings, and have given them opportunities to behave and perform better that they have ignored, then firing them is the right decision. But you will have to do it professionally and respectfully. Here are seven ways to go about firing your first employee without feeling bad.

1) Document Their Performance

Firing is not an action taken suddenly, but rather an action taken based on the accumulated unprofessional performance of an employee. So as an entrepreneur or manager, be sure to keep some well-organized documentation of the employee’s performance. The documents should detail the employee’s poor performance, the steps you have taken to warn them about the shortcomings, and the implication of their performance.

For instance, if you’re firing someone for absenteeism, take note of the several days they have been absent. Also, note that you have talked to the individual several times about how their absence disrupts the organization and the team’s plans. State how you warned them about the consequences of their performance and how they continuously ignored them. The documents should also contain copies of all the queries and warning correspondence issued to the employee. Then, highlight in the document the section of the company regulation that the employee’s performance contravenes. This documentation makes your actions legal, thereby reducing your chances of getting sued.

2) Tick All the Legal Boxes

You already started making your action legal with documentation of the employee performance. It would help if you took it a notch higher by consulting your company’s legal counsel about the issue to thoroughly examine the situation with a legal lens to ascertain your bases are covered. Even if you are suitable for firing the employee, some employees might decide to seek legal redress. To not be caught unprepared by a potential legal fallout, you need to involve the company’s legal counsel in the situation. You can’t always be too sure. Get your facts right.

3) Prepare for the Talk

Holding a meeting to tell some about the decision to fire them requires adequate preparation, else your emotions might make you falter. It is essential for you to thoughtfully and thoroughly think about how to go about the talk. Be sure to write out what you will be saying to the employee, concisely and clearly. It prevents you from mistakenly saying things that contradict your plan or aggravate the situation. You might need to get the HR manager to go about the preparation with you. Try to anticipate the various possible reactions of the employee to the news of being fired and come up with the best ways to handle their reaction. It would help if you were mentally prepared for the meeting. The employee might handle the situation differently; however, if you have adequately fortified yourself mentally, the employee’s reaction won’t spark guilt or bitterness in you after the action. Also, you have to prepare an appropriate venue for the meet. The venue should be private to avoid unnecessary embarrassment. Get some tissue paper available in case the employee needs it. And get the employee paycheck ready.

4) Have the Talk

After substantial preparation, you can now have the talk. There’s no better way to handle the talk than being frank about it. No need to dilly-dally or sugar-coat anything. They probably saw it coming by the several discussions you have had with them about improving their performance. So, call back to attention the details of their performance leading up to their termination. While addressing them, you need to be empathic yet firm.

5) Give No Room For Negotiation

It is not out of place for the employee you are firing to try to explain their actions or negotiate with you. Just make it clear to them that there’s no room for discussion or negotiation. It is even better you explain to them from the beginning of the meeting that the decision to terminate their appointment was taken after due consideration of their well-documented underperformance. Getting clear about this prevents any form of conflict while having the talk.

6) Terminate Access to Collect Company’s Material

It is very crucial to take steps to prevent former employees from accessing the company’s material before getting fired. It would help if you made adequate provision to collect all company’s property with them. You need to identify all of the company’s property they have, the system login with them, and handle all items collected appropriately. The most important thing to do is ensure that all property is returned and all access is revoked immediately after firing the employee. It is nothing personal. It is just standard business protocol. It is better to get all this property back while an employee is present, preferably the HR manager. The present employer will serve as a witness if there is a need for a third party to attest to the property retrieved from the former employee.

7) Reaffirm to Yourself that You Did the Right Thing

Immediately after the action and moments afterwards, you need to constantly remind yourself that the decision to fire an employee was in the company’s best interest. For an entrepreneur to building a successful company, most of their decisions must be devoid of emotional sentiment. Also, remind yourself of the times you tried to make the employee improve their performance. Just know you tried your best to avert this situation and the fired employee didn’t try as much as you did.

Finally, as a compassionate person, after taking these steps you might want to think of other ways to help the fired employee. Tell them about the solid skills you still notice in them and encourage them to find a job that is well suited for them. You can also act as a reference to get other jobs perfect for them. Then, encourage the employee to contact you if they have any questions. Now that you have been acquainted with these helpful tips, you can go ahead and make that critical decision for your company without feeling bad about yourself.

What advice do you have for firing employees? Let us know down in the comments.

This article originally published on GREY Journal.