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So upset for firing an employee


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Old 6th August 2017, 3:09 PM   #1
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So upset for firing an employee

Hi everyone,

I was wondering if I could get an outside opinion from the lovely people on this community?

I'm fairly new to management and hired three employees on behalf of my company about 3 months ago. Unfortunately one of our hires just wasn't working out - he fought with several other long-time employees, blamed others when projects went badly, went missing from work a few times, etc. We did give him warnings and offer support but it just wasn't working.

I have had a lot of support from the team here and deep-down know this was the right decision. However I've felt sick with guilt and anxiety all week. At my most paranoid I'm scared of retribution but I also just feel terrible for having to do this. The alternative was to let him stay in the org to avoid confrontation and have him continue to upset coworkers and make mistakes which I knew would just create low-level tension indefinitely.

Any thoughts on this, has anyone had to deal with this experience as management? I've really wound myself in to quite a state thinking about this and have frankly, found the whole process one of the worst experiences of my life and I don't want to hurt anyone.
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Old 6th August 2017, 3:57 PM   #2
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Being the bearer of bad news is never pleasant but you have to do what is best for yourself & the company, which means firing him.

Grit your teeth & do it. Remember this person was the master of his own fate. His bad behavior led to this result to this result not you.
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Old 6th August 2017, 4:07 PM   #3
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It's time to do it. 3 months or 90 days is the standard probationary period. Tell him you're sorry it hasn't worked out and that it's for the same reasons he's been warned about in the past and not fitting in.
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Old 6th August 2017, 4:07 PM   #4
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Hi d0nnivain, thanks for responding to my post. I think this whole process has shown me how worries I am about people's opinions of me. I know being an effective leader doesn't always mean being a liked leader but I have no idea how people have to do this regularly reconcile the conflict in their own minds...
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Old 6th August 2017, 4:11 PM   #5
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Thanks preraph, I think you've been kind enough to respond to my posts before. I guess having been on the other side for so long, it really catapulted me back to some bad experiences I've had with managers. I promised myself I would never undermine employee's self confidence in their roles like my bosses have done with me. I know no one enjoys letting go of staff, but I'm getting the sense that my response is a lot more emotional than is normal for an adult. I've been having nightmares and panic attacks all week...what is wrong with me?
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Old 6th August 2017, 6:06 PM   #6
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Vertconfused --

Your other employees will like you better because you got rid of the dead weight. If you keep him on, they will resent the fact that he gets away with murder while they work hard.
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Old 7th August 2017, 2:47 AM   #7
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Vertconfused --

Your other employees will like you better because you got rid of the dead weight. If you keep him on, they will resent the fact that he gets away with murder while they work hard.
You're absolutely right, the atmosphere of the office was getting really unpleasant and one of my closest colleagues was saying she couldn't even work next to this individual. I kept on weighing up the fact that it just wasn't fair that this man was collecting a pay check with an anxiety not to be disliked and not to hurt feelings. I'm so obsessed with the notion of getting along with everyone all the time in every job I've ever had (I've reread a few previous posts I've made over the years here and it's very evident in retrospect.) Honestly, I know most people want to be liked but not so much that it tortures them when they're not....
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Old 7th August 2017, 9:30 AM   #8
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There's nothing worse than an employees with a bad attitude and a sense of entitlement. Do what you have to do and know that this is on HIM, not you.
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Old 7th August 2017, 11:16 AM   #9
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Hi Knabe, thanks for your message. I guess the only question is having been on the other side of this (the employee of a bad boss) how do you know when it's something on your side because this guy could just as well turn around and blame me as the boss as much as I'm saying it's his failure as an employee.
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Old 7th August 2017, 11:22 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Veryconfused12345 View Post
Hi Knabe, thanks for your message. I guess the only question is having been on the other side of this (the employee of a bad boss) how do you know when it's something on your side because this guy could just as well turn around and blame me as the boss as much as I'm saying it's his failure as an employee.
Honestly, I think a bad employee KNOWS they are a bad employee - they just don't care enough to do better. If this person has been given warnings, then it cannot come as a surprise.

Think of it this way: if a bad employee stays employed, then they are bad for the organization, and they have no motivation for positive change. You are not firing someone unfairly, you are just refusing to enable destructive behavior at the expense of the company. And if it shocks the employee into improving themselves, it's actually doing them a favor.
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Old 7th August 2017, 5:11 PM   #11
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That's a really good point and I appreciate what you're saying about essentially condoning poor work behaviour by allowing someone to stay on. It also has the ability to demoralise any other employees working hard for an organisation. I'm just thinking back to the one time that I was let go and it came as a real shock but perhaps that's because the same lines of communication and warning hadn't been given to me.

Basically, I just want to ensure that I "did right' by the employee even if they didn't do their best. I think a lot of this has to do with my own conscience and concern that perhaps I didn't give the person every opportunity to succeed. I'm scared that even if this person wasn't great at their job or didn't care, I afforded him the same support, kindness, and opportunities that a good employee would take advantage of. It might be a case of inexperience at management but I'm really beating myself up that his failure also is my failure as a manager.
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Old 8th August 2017, 3:43 AM   #12
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Everything you expressed, to be honest, are quite natural emotions. In my role, I am the CEO to several managers and I have seen folks struggle with dismissals. The reality that someone is out of a job and what it means for that person and his/her family is hard and the fear of retribution is also real, if largely unfounded.

What I can share is good managers recognize all of the things you are recognizing - that it's hard and it has real impact but that your role as a manager is to create the best work environment for everyone and that you will have to make these tough choices. So, the fact that you are struggling a little bit with this, for me, is a good sign. It means you can now see how tough management is and that you are willing - even when it is tough - to do the right thing. You are on your way to being a manager you can admire!

A couple of other bits of advice:

1) Never own someone else's behavior in the workplace. Own if you set vague expectations or didn't clearly communicate (or avoided communicating) that there was a problem. But don't own their actions. Folks make choices and if underperforming was a choice he/she made, it was still not your choice.

2) Be clear and be fair, particularly when telling someone that he/she isn't meeting your expectations. Ask the person what they heard. I have seen managers get furious and employees feel "picked on" simply because the manager really wasn't clear about what would meet expectations. Be mindful in a "corrective action" situation that an employee is likely to feel defensive and may not be listening to understand, but listening to defend. If that's the case, they are focused on how your pereception is wrong, not on how they need to improve.

3) Always remember that your job is to be consistent, fair, compassionate, honest, transparent and "above the fray." Being fair doesn't always mean that you still can't be kind. But, you have to remember that you have an obligation to everyone who works for you and your job is different than theirs - theirs is to produce the product; yours is to create a healthy, empowering and engaging g workplace in which to do it. Try and stop worrying about being people's friend. You may still be but most people want a boss they can respect above all else. And, as much as they may not enjoy it when it happens, those folks want to be called on the carpet just like anyone else when things go wrong.

4) Let people make honest mistakes. I always tell my folks that I will defend you if you make an honest mistake and tell me about it as soon as you discover it so we can fix it. When you lie and cover it up, that's when it becomes less defensible.

5) Don't micromanage. Your job is to hire good people and let them shine. Give them the chance for recognition and reward. That's what we all want.

6) Keep employee stuff confidential even when they don't. I am always amazed by this. An employee has a difficult meeting with me and leaves my office. In less than a half day, the whole staff knows about it. But it never comes from me. It's always the employee going out and telling a friend In theoffice. As a manager, this is incredibly powerful. What the other employees know is that I addressed the issue but also that I kept everything confidential. In a sense, it delivers two powerful messages with me just doing the right thing.


Good luck. You are going to be a great manager someday!
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Old 8th August 2017, 6:15 AM   #13
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I've never had any issues for firing or being part of a firing of someone who was let go for cause, the way I look at it is that once it gets to the point of a firing they have most likely been given multiple chances to right themselves and keep their job if they wanted it and honestly from what I have seen in my past they are already a cancer to the moral of the rest of the company.

The ones that have caused me the most grief, loss of sleep and generally anxiety throughout the years are the layoffs, while we haven't let many go for that reason we have had to do it, those are the people who are let go for no fault of their own, just business or in our case it was the economy.
You hope for the best in those cases and also do whatever you can to make sure they get unemployment benefits.
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Old 8th August 2017, 7:07 AM   #14
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It means you have a kind heart. That's why many companies hire jerks and *******s as managers because they don't hesitate to fire people and feel little to no remorse. Unfortunately managers do have to fire people from time to time. And you did the right thing. He was a bad employee. It's not your fault. It's his. Don't blame yourself. You have to get use to it and it will get easier over time. I would say learn to judge character so you avoid hiring bad employee as much as possible. I have a manager who is terrible at judging character so when I meet the new employee I could tell immediately, "oh this person is not going to last very long" and usually they get fired within a few weeks or they quit.

Last edited by kazen; 8th August 2017 at 7:10 AM..
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Old 8th August 2017, 3:40 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by georgia girl View Post
Everything you expressed, to be honest, are quite natural emotions. In my role, I am the CEO to several managers and I have seen folks struggle with dismissals. The reality that someone is out of a job and what it means for that person and his/her family is hard and the fear of retribution is also real, if largely unfounded.

What I can share is good managers recognize all of the things you are recognizing - that it's hard and it has real impact but that your role as a manager is to create the best work environment for everyone and that you will have to make these tough choices. So, the fact that you are struggling a little bit with this, for me, is a good sign. It means you can now see how tough management is and that you are willing - even when it is tough - to do the right thing. You are on your way to being a manager you can admire!

A couple of other bits of advice:

1) Never own someone else's behavior in the workplace. Own if you set vague expectations or didn't clearly communicate (or avoided communicating) that there was a problem. But don't own their actions. Folks make choices and if underperforming was a choice he/she made, it was still not your choice.

2) Be clear and be fair, particularly when telling someone that he/she isn't meeting your expectations. Ask the person what they heard. I have seen managers get furious and employees feel "picked on" simply because the manager really wasn't clear about what would meet expectations. Be mindful in a "corrective action" situation that an employee is likely to feel defensive and may not be listening to understand, but listening to defend. If that's the case, they are focused on how your pereception is wrong, not on how they need to improve.

3) Always remember that your job is to be consistent, fair, compassionate, honest, transparent and "above the fray." Being fair doesn't always mean that you still can't be kind. But, you have to remember that you have an obligation to everyone who works for you and your job is different than theirs - theirs is to produce the product; yours is to create a healthy, empowering and engaging g workplace in which to do it. Try and stop worrying about being people's friend. You may still be but most people want a boss they can respect above all else. And, as much as they may not enjoy it when it happens, those folks want to be called on the carpet just like anyone else when things go wrong.

4) Let people make honest mistakes. I always tell my folks that I will defend you if you make an honest mistake and tell me about it as soon as you discover it so we can fix it. When you lie and cover it up, that's when it becomes less defensible.

5) Don't micromanage. Your job is to hire good people and let them shine. Give them the chance for recognition and reward. That's what we all want.

6) Keep employee stuff confidential even when they don't. I am always amazed by this. An employee has a difficult meeting with me and leaves my office. In less than a half day, the whole staff knows about it. But it never comes from me. It's always the employee going out and telling a friend In theoffice. As a manager, this is incredibly powerful. What the other employees know is that I addressed the issue but also that I kept everything confidential. In a sense, it delivers two powerful messages with me just doing the right thing.


Good luck. You are going to be a great manager someday!
Thanks so much for your kind words. I’m glad to hear that my reaction to this isn’t disproportionate to the situation; I’ve really felt tortured about this whole experience. I wanted to let you know I’m also taking your advice very seriously, especially the point about “never owning someone else’s behaviour.” I spent the last several months apologising to all of my colleagues about this ex-employee’s behaviour and second-guessing what I could have done better but I think I need to remind myself that the employee needs to want to try as well.

I really want my employees to feel safe making “honest mistakes” because that’s part and parcel of being human. I know that in jobs where I felt nervous or like I was constantly having to prove myself, I was far more prone to mistakes if only because of general anxiety. So I really wanted this employee to feel safe making mistakes. The main issue for me was when I asked about a mistake, he immediately became defensive or tried to blame another member of staff. It made me so sad to see him get so immediately aggressively defensive; there really wasn’t any way to discuss how to improve performance when a person’s only line is “it wasn’t my fault.”

You sound like an excellent leader who treats her employee’s with respect and fairness. Your advice is very much appreciated!
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