Don’t Be Afraid to Say, ‘You’re Fired’

When people get promoted into a management role, the going phrase is that you now have “hire and fire” power. Almost everyone enjoys using his or her hire power — it’s great to build your own team and see each individual employee grow. But fire power? Unless you’re a cold-hearted person, you generally don’t enjoy using your fire power — ever.

But should you?

If you think the answer is “no,” consider the hiring and firing operations of the federal government for a moment — you’re more likely to die than to be fired in a government job. Then, think about the level of service provided by most government organizations: Do you want to run your business with the efficiency of a DMV? Then don’t fire anyone. But if you want to be better than that, you need to be willing to let people go when it’s warranted.

To keep reading, click here: Don’t Be Afraid to Say, ‘You’re Fired’

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4 thoughts on “Don’t Be Afraid to Say, ‘You’re Fired’

  1. My previous employer was liberal about using the word, “fire” when it came to terminations. It was a family-owned operation that started life as a storefront and had grown into a well-known, multi-state concern over the course of 40 years. Clearly they had done something right prior to me joining. AS an organization, they had had a difficult time with their HR department to the point that it had zero respect organization-wide. The CEO had decided he needed to change his HR department and with the help of a consultant, set out to hire a different team that could step up the HR game and take the organization to the next level.
    I was surprised (read: shocked) at the liberal use of two four letter f-words, the second of which was “fire.” One thing that I had learned was that if one wanted an amicable separation, the word and connotation that went with “fire” had to be tempered. Unfortunately, many of the decision makers had been with the company for a very long time and old habits die hard. “Firing” was commonplace and they had little use for learning opportunities or saving employees who may have made a minor mistake.
    I wholeheartedly agree with you in your post. There are absolutely times that employees need to be terminated, i.e. “fired,” but regardless of the reason, the one thing that I cannot overstate is that even when the decision is made, the employee is still a person and should still be treated with the utmost of respect. They won’t see it that way in the moment but maintaining professionalism, calm, and the situation may prevent little things like wrongful termination lawsuits from creeping up.

  2. Having fired a poor performer who was wreaking havoc on my days and the days of her colleagues, I’m on board with this. However, you mention that the reason the person was let go should be explained to the remaining employees. Everywhere I’ve worked, firings were couched in a gentle “we decided to part ways” or “she decided to pursue other opportunities” message. Any suggestions on what the appropriate message is to convey to the remaining team, without embarrassing the terminated employee?

    1. I would say short and to the point; “We decided to part ways,” or “She decided to pursue other opportunities,” are both very good options. If it was a toxic co-worker, very likely there wouldn’t be very many questions.

  3. I am reminded of the book “First Break All the Rules” in which the author suggests that companies should let go the bottom 10% of the workforce every year. While many companies may not need to go to that level, in general the idea that companies should feel comfortable letting some people go is a pretty decent one. If you have never hired anyone, the indeed like the government, it may not be a very good thing either.

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