How to Minimize the Pain When Firing People

Firing people might be of the toughest things game producers may face. Luckily I haven’t faced that situation for some time, but the recent discussion regarding how to deal with a slacker got me thinking about the firing.

Strangely, I believe one of the most important elements in the process is this: if you need fire somebody, don’t delay the firing. Postponing the decision and hoping to things to work out is not always the best solution. In fact, not firing somebody can have several nasty effects:

  • The guy who should be fired (and is not) will cost money (his salary needs to be paid).
  • The guy might slow down the project (if he is not suitable person for the project) as he still needs management.
  • The guy might harm the working environment (if he has negative attitude it can be bad for the morale)

Sometimes people still want to avoid firing, and reason this by saying “that they want to minimize the pain”. There’s just one problem with this approach: firing won’t get any easier in the future.

My reasoning is that people shouldn’t hire and fire people without good reasons. I believe that postponing the “inevitable” is not a good strategy. If you need to do something, then just do it. If you need to fire somebody, then fire him. Minimize the pain by not postponing the firing process.

Juuso Hietalahti