There should be absolutely, positively no reason for someone to be surprised upon being fired. Ever.
Now, I’m not saying there won’t be a measure of shock. But the fact that the two of you have arrived at this point should not under any circumstance be a complete surprise.
Here’s the four step continuum of progressive discipline with which every manager should be acquainted:
1. Suggest: “You might try this next time…”
2. Direct: “I’d like you to handle it this way next time…”
3. Alert: “It’s important that you remember to…”
4. Notify: “We’ve talked about this several times. If this isn’t corrected, your employment could be affected.”
These four steps happen BEFORE any mention of losing one’s job.