When It’s Time To Say Goodbye

Jim Luff
Posted on August 21, 2013

Firing someone is never fun but sometimes it is the only option.
I don’t know anyone who actually enjoys terminating an employee. Sometimes, there just isn’t any choice. I read an article in the newspaper the other day that described a bunch of people sitting in a bar as, “the hiring and firing type of people.” I had to wonder if I was there. I think we all tend to hang out with people such as ourselves so naturally even bosses hang out with bosses. I have never once heard anyone say they enjoyed firing someone.

In fact, I have had several of my friends say, "I had to let so-and-so go today.” None of them say it with a smile even if “the person deserved to be fired.” It wreaks havoc on someone’s life. Chances are the person has a spouse, kids, a mortgage, a car payment and you just know he or she will be in a financial tizzy as a result of the firing.  I also worry about who will be the one to “go postal” and show up the next day with a gun and start shooting. That’s the reality of the world we live in.

In the normal course of human relations or employee management, it is somewhat normal to issue a verbal warning followed by a written warning or two or three or 10. Finally, when those have no effect, it is time for a farewell handshake. 

There is never a good time to do it. There is never a good way to do it. I recently had to do it and this time I am in fear of an employee with a Jekyl-and-Hyde personality. One day, this guy could be the nicest, most helpful person you could meet. On others, his demeanor was downright scary, including grabbing things and hurling them in the air. 

When he was hired, I will never forget a driver calling me to ask who the naked guy was sleeping in the back of a limousine with the engine running and the A/C on inside our commercial garage. I have to laugh as I write this knowing that particular chauffeur is an avid reader of my weekly blog. He will remember the day well, I am sure. I suppose that should have been my first clue that something wasn’t quite right. 
Unfortunately, it was not a one-time deal. His weird and unpredictable behavior continued along with a host of personal problems necessitating frequent time off work. When personal problems and an irrational behavior pattern grew, I knew that no matter how nice a guy might be on a good day, the bad days and situations outweighed the good. I would say I am going to miss him, but that would be a lie. I hope he stays away.

— Jim Luff, LCT contributing editor

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