Sometimes Supervisors Are Just Too Nice

Why are people so often fired badly? Sometimes, of course, the boss is just a jerk. But many times well-intentioned supervisors just don’t know what to do.

They have no goals for what they want to accomplish (except maybe avoiding pain and conflict), and even if they did, they wouldn’t know how to get there. Often managers are just trying to be too nice.

If performance starts to lag or complaints about an employee begin to accumulate, a boss might make some vague, innocuous comments about doing better and trying to improve. The employee thinks it was a weak pep talk, and immediately forgets it. When nothing changes, the supervisor might try that again and still get no response. Eventually a crisis hits and an explosion of frustration forces the boss to act, who now overreacts in any number of possible ways, including firing.

Supervisors like this are trying to be nice, but by not being honest or straightforward, they are actually doing a grave disservice to those who work for them.

Previously I wrote about my friend Brian who loves to fire people. Usually (not always) people left his employ with their dignity intact and little surprise about the eventual outcome. How did he do it?

First, he had clear goals in the whole process. These included

1. Affirming the dignity and value of the employee
–showing that what they do matters
–giving them the chance to change, grow and succeed
–giving them assistance and tools needed to succeed
–taking seriously the quality and quantity of our work

2. Making sure employees are not surprised
–when they are put on probation
–when they are terminated

3. Affirming the dignity and value of others
–acknowledging the serious effects the employee might be having on others
–taking action that effectively deals with that impact

How did Brian actually carry out these goals? That’s a topic for next time.

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.