“I Love to Fire People”

More than one friend of mine has been fired from a job. I’m not talking about being downsized, going out of business, being a victim of cutbacks, being laid off or, as our friends on the other side of the Pond say, being made redundant. I’m talking fired, dismissed, sacked, given a pink slip. Maybe I just hang out with the wrong people.

It’s never been pleasant, of course, for any of them. They are usually caught by surprise. They had no idea it was coming. They were often treated shabbily. Some got a decent severance. Some didn’t. Regardless, it always stunk.

This has made me very conscious of the fact that there are many wrong ways to fire someone and only a few right ways. One executive said the only way to do it is to tell people face to face, and then go to the bathroom and throw up. Firing is just not fun for anyone.

Then one day I was talking with Brian. “I just love to fire people,” he said. And he didn’t mean “with enthusiasm.” I was about to look around for a padded room when Brian went on.

“I’m a sales manager. I have a dozen sales people under me. Most do a great job. Some don’t. Those that don’t move on. It’s not about personality conflicts or bad attitudes or being a troublemaker. It’s about performance. It’s about being as objective and measurable as possible. It’s about helping people succeed—either in this job or in another one that suits them better.”

That’s easy for him to say, I say to myself. He’s dealing with sales. You sell a hundred widgets a month or you are gone. It’s easy.

“It’s never easy,” he says. “But I do such a good job of firing people that I almost never have to fire anyone.”

Now I really know he needs major medication. He sees my skeptical look.

“No. It’s true. I do such a good job that a week or two before I know I am going to have to fire someone, they usually tell me they are quitting. They’ve found another job. So I don’t even have to fire them.”

How does Brian do it? Stay tuned.

Author: Andy Le Peau

I've been an editor and writer for over forty years. I am passionate about ideas and how we can express them clearly, beautifully, and persuasively. I love reading good books, talking about them, and recommending them. I thoroughly enjoy my family who help me continue on the path of a lifelong learner.

5 thoughts on ““I Love to Fire People””

  1. Am I trying to tell my colleagues something? Coming from Elaina, I know the question is tongue in cheek, but let me answer it seriously. No one in the editorial department is anywhere near getting fired. This is an issue I have thought about for many years as a result of seeing many people being fired badly (which has caused me an them much grief), and a few fired well (which is still hard but better). Both my wife, Phyllis, and I have done seminars for managers on the topic as a result of our interactions with so many. It’s a perennial issue that needs care. So, no, this particular blog is not for those in my department but for those who supervises others.

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