We have all heard horror stories describing how and why employees were fired, or as corporate America likes to say, “terminated.” As business owners, we are consistently looking for and interviewing qualified applicants. I always thought it was peculiar that in more than 20 years of interviewing potential employees, no applicant ever stated, “I was terminated, and I deserved it.” Unfortunately, business owners interviewing applicants only hear one side of the story. While there are certainly unfair workplace situations putting employees in a difficult culture or environment, I have often discovered that they weren’t fired by their employer at all; they fired themselves. They left their employer no other choice but to end the employee/employer relationship due to their actions.
Hiring and Firing Systems
Way too often, our clients dread terminating employees. Feelings of guilt, worries about replacing the workload and work assignments, and resentment from co-workers are primary reasons small business owners shy away from the process. Surprisingly, once we walk them through the proper way to terminate an employee who needs to be let go and properly hire a replacement, the outcome is a learning experience that changes their pre- and post-hiring process forever. It becomes a standard, a hiring doctrine. The ensuing process communicates a higher level of accountability for both the new hire and those that remain on the ever-improving team.
A Lesson from Raspberry Bushes
Removing a member and paring down the team, though difficult, reminds me of my younger years growing up in Michigan. Each fall, I was assigned the duty to cut my mom’s raspberry bushes down to the base of the stem. It was demoralizing. There were thorns, and the sweetest of fruit had been picked weeks before and enjoyed by the entire family. But even though I dreaded the process, I was being taught the true meaning of delayed gratification. Each June, July, and August, the raspberries seemed to be more plentiful and sweeter than the summer before. Having to fire an employee is not pleasant. But you will grow as an owner, and an entrepreneur as a result.
Setting an Example
Remember, as a business owner, your employees are watching you. They are counting on you to put together a team around them that reflects the core values you’ve set for the organization. You, as the leader, must make the difficult choices. Sometimes it’s scary, but it is necessary. And trust me, your team will respect you making the tough decisions.