Guess what? You’re Fired!

You're FiredAccording to the United States government, we are officially out of this recession that has forced many businesses to close and pushed a lot of the American people into the unemployment line.  President Obama said that we were experiencing an economic upturn not a month ago.  He also announced that we have hit a 10.2% unemployment rate.  When asked how a country that has steadily been decreasing jobs can claim to be out of the recession we are obviously still in, Obama said that jobs are the last piece of the puzzle when coming out of a downturn like this.

A lot of higher ups out there have had to lay off several people over the last year.  Whether it is because of the economy, because of bad financial decisions, or whatever the case may be, firing someone (or laying off if you want it to sound like a positive situation) is never easy.  I have never been fired, but I have been laid off.  When I worked at Circuit City, right before they went out of business altogether, they restructured their departments and forced the team leads to either take massive pay cuts or be out of their positions altogether.  I was one of those people who suffered the latter.

If you are someone who is in the position of firing another employee, there are a few things to keep in mind during this process.  Just like when you write your resume or you go in for a job interview, there are rules that you need to adhere to.  These are not golden rules, and you are not forced into them by any means.  But the next time you are firing someone, keep these tips in mind as it could make the process go a lot more smoothly.

1. This was a job elimination and had nothing to do with your performance.”

Why lie to the employee?  Why tell them something that is obviously not true and make them feel like they are still a good worker regardless of the reason for their departure?  Tell him or her the truth.  Let them down gently, sure, but make sure they are aware of the exact reason they are being asked to step down.  If you tell an employee their performance is right in line with everyone else you raise questions as to why they are getting fired.  Or, you provide false hope for when this individual re-enters the work force.

2. We have carried you for many years. It’s just not possible to continue to do so during these difficult times.”

This is not a reason to fire someone.  You were hired to do a job and you have a daily responsibility to make that company money.  When you come into work, and give 100%, and are still asked to go home and not return there is a deeper reason you are being let go.  No company, regardless of whatever excuse they may bring to the table, can blame this economy for being the reason they are doing poorly.  Our economy has always had spikes, and has seen times worse than this in our history. I work for a company that has hired more than a handful of people since we started this economic slope.  We are also in a field that is struggling right now as everyone is cutting back.

3. We have no choice but to terminate your employment.”

Sure you do.  You always have a choice.  I would venture to think that a lot of the people out there looking for work would have stayed with their respective companies if asked to step into a lower paid position.  If you have good health care, a good retirement plan, or whatever the case may be, you would accept this demotion in the thoughts that the US economy has 100% of the time bounced back in situations like these.  Will it happen overnight?  No, of course not.  But if you wait and see, within five years of right now, the economy will be back to where it was and even better because of this recession.

4. This is just as hard for me as it is for you.”

No, it really isn’t.  You are the one that has a job.  You are the one making more money than me because you have the power to so what you just did: fire me.  You are the one with control here, not me.  You win in the end.  You get to go home tonight and kiss your wife and know you will be back in the office tomorrow morning.  I am going home to tell my wife we have to sell our house because I can’t find a job.  This is not hard for you, and you know it.

5. I am sorry, but you are fired.”

If I were told this, without any provocation before hand, I would think I was being “punked” on MTV.  You cannot, as a businessman or woman walk into someone’s office and say that without explaining why, be it the economic situation with the company, or even offering to lower his or her income to keep them employed and out of that plus ten percent of unemployed.  That is just rude, unprofessional, and will come back to haunt you if you handle a case like this.

This is just a sampling of some things that you might hear if put in this situation.  I do not wish it on anyone because I know some very well qualified individuals out there who cannot even get an interview.  Is it impossible to find work?  No, I do not think so.  But, I do not want to experience that again for a long time. So if you are in a position where you have to fire someone take it with a grain of salt, vest yourself in their situation, and care for them as you give them this terrible news.