Before You Fire Someone, Read This

If you’ve been a manager for long, you’ve probably had to fire someone. Or, perhaps you are considering or preparing to fire someone now.

3 soldiers in front of a German firing squad

Just because you’re not the focus doesn’t mean you don’t feel anxious about the situation. Gain some perspective by looking at the situation from the other person’s point of view and remember to acknowledge and accept your feelings and take care of your needs.

If so, you may well be experiencing some anxiety about it, the way a couple of people I spoke with recently were.

They shared with me their feelings of discomfort, dread, and guilt (their words) over having to fire an employee. I shared with them how to make this uncomfortable situation easier, without shirking their responsibilities, without being selfish, and while showing respect to the employees they were about to dismiss.

Hard Facts About Firing

Yes, it is difficult to fire someone.

I’ve had to fire underperformers, those with bad attitudes and those whose skills were simply no longer required. I’ve never regretted the decisions because I knew each one was the right move for the good of the company and the remaining team.

I’ve also been fired.

I know on which side of the desk I’d rather be.

So do you.

By focusing on their own minor and momentary discomfort and ignoring the pain about to be felt by the fired employee, these managers were being selfish.

As though their momentary discomfort over a conversation that they chose to initiate, at the time, the place, the topic, and the non-negotiable outcome, all of their choice, was somehow worse than the life-altering situation they were imposing on the employee.

Prepare Yourself Before You Fire Someone

I talk a lot about the need to focus on yourself so that you have a good relationship with yourself. Only when you have a good relationship with yourself can you have a good relationship with others.

These two managers were thinking about their own discomfort, but not about how to do to take care of their discomfort. Taking care of your discomfort is not time-consuming or difficult. Here are some simple things that you can do:

  • Accept that you’re anxious
  • Challenge your thinking
  • Consider what the conversation will mean to the person you’re firing
  • Inventory the strengths you can bring to the conversation
  • Make a plan for how to use them during the firing
  • Stay in the present now so that you can be in the present during the firing

“‘You’re fired!’ No other words can so easily and

succinctly reduce a confident, self-assured executive

to an insecure, groveling shred of his former self.”

~ Frank P. Louchheim

Live Honest, Open and True

Think it’s hard to fire someone? Next you need to fire someone, put your feelings in perspective by looking at the situation from the point of view of the person losing the job. Then start preparing for this difficult conversation by taking a few minutes to take care of your own needs.

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What thoughts occupy your mind when faced with needing to fire someone? Tell me about it in the comments or tweet me @lifeishotblog with the hash tag #LifeIsHOT!

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