The Eagle Blog

Some Thoughts on Firing People and Being Fired

man holding sign saying You're FiredI was talking to an old friend last night who had that unpleasant task of having to fire somebody yesterday.

Like most nice people my friend took it hard himself.

If you have never been in that position, or perhaps if you have been fired yourself you would likely have no sympathy.  Perhaps your response might even be an emotional one in support of the fired person.

Here are the realities of life in the workforce, whether you are management or not:

1.  Business decisions should never be emotional … they should be about the facts.

2.  Life is not fair!

3.  Managers are tasked with doing the right thing for the company, if the right thing is to fire somebody then that is what they need to do.

4.  Managers have a responsibility to do what they can to assist their staff in being successful.  My hope would be that they would mentor, coach, train and perhaps even invest in their staff development to achieve this aim.  See #2.

5.  Firing people is one of the toughest jobs a manager has.

6.  Every employee is ultimately responsible for their own success … if they are doing everything right then it is unlikely they will be fired.  However see #2.

7.  If you are good at what you do then being caught up in a layoff for “bigger reasons” should be offset by your employability.  Thus finding another job shouldn’t be that tough … of course #2 applies here too (actually that numbering seems really appropriate)!

8.  Managers are often too slow to act when people are not performing in their job.  If the person is not doing a good job, and the person is not actively working extra hard to fix it … then the writing is on the wall.

9.  Most times when someone is fired for performance issues the people that know them best expect it, and quite often wonder why it took so long!

10.  Firing and being fired is a part of life.  If you get fired then learn from it, if you have to do the firing then be business like … and always remember it as #2!

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
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4 thoughts on “Some Thoughts on Firing People and Being Fired

  1. Per Kevin’s point #4, managers are both personally and professionally invested in their staff and their staff’s success (or lack of it). Firing an underperforming employee is the last and very final step; and, if a manager is truly accountable, it demands of them to admit their own failure in the matter. Which is also hard to do… personal pride, determination, and resilience can all work against making that final decision.

  2. Absolutely I agree that managers should take the success of their staff seriously. However people are responsible for their own success. Managers are also responsible to their employer and for the success of the rest of their staff so a pragmatic approach is required. We don’t live in a black and white world, but often the decision is very evident long before managers act … that is good for nobody.

  3. I worked with a company for 13 years as a manager, did my very best, Had a large staff and never fired any one because I took a personal responsibility in coaching, training, interviewing the right person for the job etc. A new young executive who thought he knew everything and suddenly I was not capable of doing the job and within 1 year of this person being on the job. I was fired, like you said that life is unfair but when a person has to deal with these type of behavior it is really bad not only unfair…

  4. Susan, thanks for your comment. Obviously I don’t know all of the circumstances of your situation. The manager’s job is a tough one, and often people think that they should aspire to be a manager for their career growth but that is not always the case. It would be interesting to see how ” new young executive” peformed in the ensuing years!

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