The average American home has
more TV sets than people.
Source: Nielsen Media Research
became part of pop culture thanks to a reality TV show that
ended every episode with those two words.
But in reality,
most managers will say just about anything except that.
Things like “Maybe you’d be happier somewhere else” or “This
isn’t working out for either of us.”
My all-time favorite
is “We’re freeing you up for other opportunities”.
Baptist minister in Memphis took a more philosophical approach
when he said “I’ve never fired anyone, but I’ve helped lots of
people with the decision they’d already made for both of us.”
Firing people is the worst part of a manager’s job. It’s
also the most important.
In his best-selling book “Good
to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...and Others Don't”
(which I highly recommend), Jim Collins wrote:
have the wrong people on the bus, nothing else matters. You may
be headed in the right direction, but you still won’t achieve
greatness. Great vision with mediocre people still produces
Yet no matter how sure you are that an
employee has to go and that you’re doing the right thing, the
emotions that managers feel after termination are endless.
Sadness, Disappointment, Failure, Loss, Sympathy, Concern,
Heartache, Fear, Guilt, and the list goes on.
All but one
of those emotions is reasonable.
Feeling sad and
disappointed that the employee failed is reasonable, because you
were invested in their success.
Feeling a sense of
failure and loss is also reasonable, because we all lose when an
employee has to go. Even though getting fired is never pleasant,
it’ll probably be easier for him to find a new job than it will
be for you to find a new employee.
Sympathy , Concern,
and Heartache are also reasonable, because as a person with a
conscience, you have compassion for other people even when you
have to fire them (even though they may not believe it).
Fear is also reasonable. Fear of not being able to find another
employee, of getting sued, or of violence are common because
they happen so often.
But the one emotion you should
never feel when firing is guilt.
Guilt is the appropriate
emotion to feel when you did something WRONG, and you did
nothing wrong by firing an employee who needed to go. To the
contrary, you did exactly the RIGHT thing for your company,
yourself, your other employees, and even for the employee that
To Your Success,
It never ceases to amaze me how many managers tell me
about running into a former employee years later, and the
employee actually THANKS the manager for firing them. With a
little time and distance, they come to realize that they needed
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