Donald Trump makes it look easy and almost fun. It was never either of those
things for me.
Firing for me was always hard and it was never fun. I think that’s the way it
should be. In more than four decades in business, I’ve fired a number of people.
I don’t know how many because I never thought that was something where you keep
score. But, I’ve developed some ideas about firing over the years.
Firing is something that will affect other people’s lives. It’s not just the
life of the person you fire. There are his or her team members. There are family
and friends and other people outside the business. So give the process the
attention and care it deserves.
There are only two valid reasons for firing someone. Either that person
doesn’t perform or doesn’t behave or both. Whatever it is, it’s your job to
Everyone deserves the opportunity to reform. That’s why you document your
meetings with the person, what was agreed to, and what happened next.
Follow the rules and the process. Unless you own the company there are rules
about what you should and shouldn’t do and a process you should follow. If you
own the company, there are laws that outline the same things.
Impressions may come and go, but documentation lives forever. It may need to.
Those details about who did and said what and when may find their way into an
adversarial proceeding way down the road.
There’s process and there should also be some urgency. No one gains when
someone who is not performing or behaving stays on the job. Do the due diligence
and documentation, but follow the advice of John Wooden: “Be quick, but don’t
Boss’s Bottom Line
You have to be able to fire people, but it should never be easy or automatic.