Lessening the Agony of Having to Fire Someone
A Personal Account

I’ll always remember the day I had to fire three of our technical people.  It was a Monday.

The individuals were developers on an R&D project.  The project was highly secretive - we had few competitors.  Two of the programmers were among our most knowledgeable, and although I never believed that they would damage any files or let loose viruses on our servers, we had to plan for the worse.  On Sunday, their logins would be changed and they would not even be allowed back in their cubes.  Another manager and I had a very heart-wrenching and emotional weekend sorting through desks and files and boxing personal items.  I felt very, very bad.

We had exercised the utmost care in evaluating and counseling these individuals during the three previous months.  Every legal requirement had been adhered to, documentation was thorough and personnel files complete.  Nothing should come as a surprise.  

But, it didn’t make it any easier.  All Sunday night, I struggled.  What should I say?  How should I say it?  What if they get angry?  How do I respond when they insist the assessment is wrong?  The Director of Human Resources gave me a copy of a two-page article that tried to answer these questions.  It was hardly enough.  Still, I clung to every word, writing out how I would say, “You’re fired,” with some sensitivity, and practiced out loud in my office.

I didn’t sleep a wink that night.  The next morning, I delivered my prepared message the best I could. I took the rest of the afternoon off.

The next day, I happened to speak with the CEO, and I mentioned how hard that experience had been for me.   He told me that he, too, can’t sleep knowing he’s to fire someone the next morning.  And, it never gets any easier.

No matter how many times one goes through the process, we all have a fear of firing.  I don’t know where the two-page article went, but I was asked for it often by other managers and VP’s in the same predicament.   It seems every professional yearns for guidance when confronted with termination meetings.

Featured Resource

The week’s featured resource is  I Have to Fire Someone!  by Richard S. Deems, and it’s right on target, the book I would have given anything for that Sunday night.  In 101 pages, this practical how-to guide prepares you for the process and walks you through potential employee reactions.  It is excellent, and I highly recommend that you get a copy now.  On some Sunday night, you’ll be very glad you planned ahead.

I Have to Fire Someone   by Richard S. Deems, Ph.D, softcover, 101 pages, $12.99.

Employee termination can be one of the most stressful experiences that anyone in the workforce can face.  But few stop to consider that it’s as agonizing - if not more so - for the employer as it is for the employee.  And, it’s especially difficult for the new manager who may not have much experience with hiring, firing, and other employee issues.

In  I Have to Fire Someone!, author Richard Deems presents a simple, practical process that assures that you can fire someone effectively and humanely - and protect your company from a potential lawsuit.

Whether you are a two-person or thousand-person division, these guidelines will lessen or eliminate your own fear of firing.  No one enjoys the firing process, but when it has to be done, you need to do it right - for yourself, the employee, and the company.

Add I Have to Fire Someone! to your basket =>

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Related Selections

We encourage you also to get these books written in the same practical style for your management library:

Firing Without Fear; A Legal Guide For Concientious Employers, by Barbara Kate Repa, softcover, 228 pages, 2000, $29.95

In this book you will find out everything you need to know about progressive discipline, intervention, and retraining; deciding when to keep or fire an employee; the process of letting an employee go; and the laws, myths, and realities of firing.

Add Firing Without Fear to your basket =>

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Fair, Square, & Legal: Safe Hiring, Managing, and Firing Practices to Keep You and Your Company Out of Court, Third Edition
by Donald E. Weiss, hardcover, 372 pages, 2000, $29.95

Do you really know what you're doing, legally speaking, when you interview candidates, appraise staff, or fire employees?  Are you sure?  This "must have" guide is one book you cannot afford to be without, literally.

Add Fair, Square, & Legal to your basket =>

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Hiring: How to Find and Keep the Best People
by Richard S. Deems, Ph.D, softcover, 126 pages, $12.99

How can I be more effective when conducting a hiring interview?  What questions should I ask?  What questions are illegal to ask? How can I really predict if a candidate will “fit”?  

The process of interviewing and selecting an employee can seem like a hit or miss proposition - especially to new managers who may not have a lot of hiring experience.  In today’s times when even small companies can spend thousands of dollars a year to recruit, hire, and train a single productive employee, you can’t afford to misstep.

Richard Deems’  Hiring: How to Find and Keep the Best People puts more science into the hiring process, presenting a practical, hands-on workbook to guide you through a hiring effort that will target the right employees for your business.

Add Hiring: How to Find and Keep the Best People to your basket =>

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Powerful Performance Appraisals
by Karen McKirchy, softcover, 126 pages, $12.99

Too often, a potentially productive employee winds up underperforming or, worse, leaving your company because he or she hasn’t received the necessary feedback needed in order to do the job well.

Managers can avoid this costly situation simply by giving employees more effective performance evaluations. Even in small companies, effective appraisals that elicit employee commitment and loyalty are crucial to business success.

In his timely book, author Karen McKirchy emphasizes the “human touch” as the missing component from most performance appraisals.  In Powerful Performance Appraisals, he offers practical, step-by-step guidelines that will put that human touch into the performance evaluation, leading to more employee productivity.  Following these guidelines is bound to change the evaluation process from a dreaded duty to a time that both appraisers and employees look forward to.

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Order I Have to Fire Someone!, Hiring: How to Find and Keep the Best People, and Powerful Performance Appraisals and pay shipping on one book only (You save 9%!) =>

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Last modified June 4, 2002