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Episode 86 - 14 Apr 2021

Letting People Go

On this episode of the Church Leadership Podcast, John McGee is joined in the studio by Luke Friesen (Director of Operations) and Todd Wagner (Campus Shepherd) to discuss the difficult topic of firing. Together they discuss how to go about firing graciously, and why doing it well is important for leadership. For show notes and more visit

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Episode Summary


Luke Friesen and Todd Wagner weigh in on the difficulty and nuance of letting people go. Remember, if any organization should be able to fire people with grace, it should be the church. Loving people does not mean you won't ever push people where they need to go.

Six Mistakes Leaders Make Regarding Firing
  1. Leaders don't address mistakes early or at all. You shouldn't just "live with" issues. Don't wait for an annual review. If you see something is wrong, point it out right away so correction can happen.
  2. Assuming clarity and not seeking mutual understanding. Know that when you tell someone they are in need of improvement, a follow up is almost always necessary. Remember to document conversations so you can refer to them again in the future. Let the person being reprimanded or fired ask a lot of questions.
  3. Giving preferential treatment. You must resist the urge to show preferential treatment to friends or family of the church. How you hire or fire an individual should be consistent regardless of familiarity.
  4. Forgetting that who got you here may not be who you need to get you there. Even if there are leaders on your team who have gotten you to the place you are, that doesn't always mean they are the right people going forward. Change is not an admission of failure. Understand that because organizations change, key leaders may need to transition into new roles rather than becoming stagnant.
  5. Not being generous. Provide a long runway, and be as generous as possible. However, you can only be generous with what you have. Consider either financial generosity or time flexibility. Give margin for them to find a new job before letting them go.
  6. Thinking that you won't be maligned. Understand that there are always going to be instances when bitterness and division results from the firing process. Even if you are unbelievably gracious, be ready for it to still be hard.
Six Tips for Firing Well
  1. Don't go alone.
  2. Get to the point.
  3. Avoid euphemism or cliché.
  4. Have a plan, and don't get stuck.
  5. Be kind, but don't over emphasize.
  6. Anticipate and answer the big questions.
Other Resources

Hiring the Best

Hosted By
John mcgee 20200223 wcc headhshots 001447
John McGee

Sr. Director of Watermark Resources

A tarnow
Adam Tarnow

Cohost of Church Leadership Podcast