Friday, May 04, 2012

Firing Someone is Never Easy - But It Does Get Easier

When I first took a management position years ago I was so afraid to fire someone.  I was afraid of someone freaking out and punching me in the face.  I was afraid of having to deal with tears and hurt feelings.  I was afraid of having someone argue and throw a fit.  Remember Tom Cruise in Jerry McGuire walking out, making a scene and stealing the fish!  I didn't want any piece of that pie.

Over the last few years I've unfortunately had to let numerous people go.  It is never easy, but it has gotten easier as I've learned some things.

1.  A fear of confrontation, and the prolonging a poor performing person's employment, are detrimental to the rest of the team who have to keep picking up the slack.
2.  If you have the proper documentation and conversations ahead of time, you have nothing to worry about if the person tries to argue with you.
3.  Letting someone go can actually be a blessing for them because it frees them up to find employment that is a better fit for their skills and personality.
4.  Many times people know they have it coming, and the fear of having the conversation is only in the manager's mind.
5.  Dealing with uncomfortable situations forces us to grow.  
6.  Life goes on after a termination occurs.  For you and the former employee.  People move on.  The sun still comes up.  And you have the chance to replace that person with someone great.

Some tips for the actual conversation:

1.  Have documentation of previous warnings and coaching at hand.
2.  Take a partner or a witness with you.
3.  Don't prolong it.  Have all paperwork ready to go.
4.  Don't engage in any arguing.  Let the person vent and move on.
5.  Be empathetic, yet factual and professional.  
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