Do you remember the episode of , “Sex in the City” , when Carrie’s boyfriend broke up with her by placing a stick-um on her computer? Then this happened – one of the largest U.S. National mortgage companies just fired at least three of their employees in one of their offices in this fashion:
1. Employee 1 logged onto work computer.
2. Screen said “This employee has been terminated. Please see human resources.”
3. Repeat until everyone is logged in for the day and either still has their job – or NOT.
This really happened. These poor people were stomped out like little ants who don’t matter. What human resource genius came up with this method considering that the rest of the employee pool who were not fired and seemingly valuable members of the company were sweating bullets and thinking, “Am I next?” Many hadn’t even logged into their computers yet. Who wants to work for a company where they treat their employees this poorly?
Ideally, if you fire someone, they should know it’s coming based upon not achieving clear goals laid out as part of their job description. In sales? You must sell X number of products or risk being terminated. True leaders who manage (not just managers who pretend to lead) communicate these goals with their staff. Plus a handful of actions that will get you fired – no exceptions. Stealing? Buh bye. Sleeping with the staff? See ya! Late to work? Understood but if it happens X number of times more in a defined period of time, you will be let go. Granted that layoffs are a different monkey but at least everyone goes down with the ship in groups.
But when you are terminating someone not associated with a massive layoff, the first thing out of your mouth should be, “I’m letting you go and here’s why…”. Always start with “I’m letting you go….”. Do not START with discussing their goals first because they will get confused and not understand the message. Then they will say things like, “I’ll do better next month”, or “My numbers are improving – just wait and see!”, this while their last paycheck you have hidden behind your back is starting to soften from the sweat in your palm. Just say it and be done with it.
Similarly, if you’re breaking up with someone, just say, “I’m breaking up with you”. Do not say, “We need to talk”, or, “Let’s discuss our relationship”. You can either take the bandaid off the scabbed wound slowly or quickly. Just do it. It will still hurt, but just a little less – and the wound will heal as will their dignity.