Managers look at firing an employee as a bad thing when it fact it should be a beautiful thing. Not only is it good for the employee and your company it is also good for your team, your clients and your culture. Still, it is one of the most dreaded responsibilities of a manger.The wrong reasons why managers dread firing an employee:
You didn’t set clear expectations – if your expectations aren’t clear or delivered at all you will feel guilty for firing an employee who isn’t meeting them.
You didn’t provide actionable training – if you didn’t train them to do the job right you will dread having to fire them for not getting it.
You didn’t provide the necessary coaching – as you ponder the decision to let someone go it dawns on you that you didn’t coach them to improve, instead you secretly hoped they would just pick it up on their own.
You didn’t provide regular reviews – or – you weren’t honest in those reviews – if you aren’t talking openly and honestly about what they are doing well and where the need to improve you won’t want to fire them for falling short.
You let undesirable behavior continue thereby accepting it – you observe, hear or are told they are doing something but you brush it off, how can you possibly fire them for it when you didn’t tell them to correct it?
You invited an imbalance between boss and friend – they have become your best friend, you share intimate secrets and have a lot of fun memories or you know how badly they need the job and now your objectivity and judgment are clouded.
You didn’t tell them what was expected, you didn’t show them how to do it, and you didn’t tell them how to improve or where they stood. Now that you have to fire them you know it will be a surprise to them and this is primarily where the guilt comes from.Why firing an employee is a beautiful thing:
You remove the toxic behavior that is spreading throughout the team – bad attitudes and negative speak spread quickly. I call this a silent killer because it usually doesn’t happen in your presence. Firing one bad employee goes a long way in quickly reversing that atmosphere.
It demonstrates that certain behaviors will not be tolerated – if you tolerate it from one, others will soon catch on that it is OK. Before you know it you will have a team that practices bad behaviors. Firing someone who is teaching others bad behaviors allows you to build a team that has good ones.
The employee will stop feeling like a failure if they are unable to do the work – you go home every night stressing over a troubled project and the employee goes home every night feeling like a failure. End the suffering for both of you by firing those who are not a fit.
Clients stop suffering from a lack of performance – clients are paying good money for you to deliver and keeping someone on who can’t is wasting the their money. Firing someone who can’t be coached to improve performance ends the clients suffering.
Your time is freed up to focus on the employees who want to excel – if you are coaching and training someone who isn’t meeting expectations you are spending less time with the future superstars. Firing an employee who simply has no will to be better frees you up to help those who do want it.
You set them free – if it isn’t working out or isn’t a fit for the employee, firing them will set them free so they can move on to the great things they are supposed to be doing. They are able to move on to a place where they can provide value and feel valued.
I’m not convinced that firing an employee will ever truly feel good. Stop dreading having to fire an employee by knowing you did all that you could. Start looking at the positive reasons to fire an employee so you can start to look at it as a beautiful thing. Let’s stop making firing an employee a dreaded activity and start seeing it for the beauty it is.
Firing an Employee is a Beautiful thing is the first in a series on firing an employee. Check back often for the rest of the series. Share your experiences of being fired or of firing an employee in the comments section.