Ready, Aim, Fire!

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In my last posting, I wrote on the humiliation of  being fired.As a career life coach, I felt the need to write on my own experiences in being terminated. I also felt there needs to be a Voice to all those who have lost their jobs.

Losing a job is traumatic enough, but when termination is conducted in a cold insensitive way, the psychological effect can be a damaging effect for years to come. But what we do not hear about are the  people who are given the responsibility of terminating someone. Many are not cold and insensitive, with a great deal of compassion and heartache for who they are terminating. For many, they could be next.

I know of employers who go out of their way to help people they must dismiss, especially if it is due to mergers or financial concerns. And I am not talking about executives, but hourly employees, especially in a small business.

I have fired people and been fired. When I did have to let someone go, it was gut wrenching for me. I never took it lightly and did whatever I could to not insult or humiliate them. But no matter how much you try to deliver the news in a professional and sensitive way, you still have suddenly changed their life tragically with few words.

It is especially hard if you have been through a firing yourself already, it brings back your pain. But, this  is not about you, it is about the person in front of you that you may have called friend and shared coffee with earlier.

Below are my own points and thoughts on what I consider proper and considerate behavior for the person delivering the termination news and the one receiving it.

Individuals Who Must Deliver Termination Notices:

  1. Prepare what you are going to say before delivering the news.
  2. Be sensitive to how you must tell someone they are terminated.
    People remember what is said to them at these moments and it will haunt them for a very long time with your face on it.
  3. Have someone with you when must terminate people to make notes of the meeting for HR and their personnel file.
  4. Make it brief, to the point, and why without insulting the person’s intelligence and self dignity. Also, be honest.
  5. Don’t terminate someone where others can hear and see what is going on.
  6. Make sure that you do not have a security guard at the person’s desk when they come back from lunch. I have heard this one way too often.
  7. Don’t say that you know how they feel, you don’t. Everyone experience’s loss in their own way.
  8. Many people may react by reacting in anger. Remain calm and listen, hear them out.  For many, the build up of knowing that a termination may occur, or there has been a suspected personal sabotage,will blow the lid off their fear and anger. Most of the time they just want to be heard and will leave without force.
  9. Never allow anyone to physically harm you. That is another reason you want someone with you in case someone becomes violent.
  10. You can be firm and professional as well as compassionate without the cold blooded attitude. People who are handled  poorly will make sure that you and your company are never shown in a good light. This can come back to hurt your company when hiring time comes again.
  11. It is never OK to say that firing people is not your problem and they should not cry in your office. What goes around comes around.
  12. Please, do not fire someone by e-mail!

Individuals Who Are Terminated:

  1. You are entitled to be heard and have your questions regarding your termination answered honestly.
  2. Do not react by shouting obscenities, threatening someone, or become physically violent.
  3. If you feel you have been fired by unjust cause, you must have proof. And that is proof that is seen, heard and documented.
  4. Most times it is not worth fighting a termination if it is for revenge or out of anger. This could prevent you from getting another job.
  5. However, if you can prove that you were fired unjustly, such as in discrimination, you have the right to bring that to light and justice.
  6. Be a dependable worker. When downsizing occurs, it may be the slackers who go first. A company most times will do all they can to keep good workers, especially if they must rely on a lean workforce.
  7. If you are downsized, ask if the company would be a reference for you. if you were a good worker and it was no fault of your own you were let go, many companies will in order to try and help you in some way.
  8. No matter how hard it may be, when you are job searching, do not bad mouth the company you left publicly or on social media. Employers will not consider you if they see you criticizing where you used to work, whether you feel they deserved it or not.
  9. Do not sabotage programs or damage equipment if you suspect or know you may be terminated. That can come back to haunt you in legal ways that can damage your reputation and chances for another job for a long time.
  10. Being fired can have a long lasting affect on a person. But, instead of being so angry at what happened, decide at some point that person or job is not worth the energy you are putting into it. They have moved on and forgot about you. Put that energy into moving forward in life and leaving them and the job behind.It just is not worth it.
  11. Job search can be an isolating and humiliating event in your life. There are many job search clubs where you can meet with people who are in the same situation you are. Just make sure you do not always dwell on being out of work, you need to be moving forward together.
  12. As best as you can, see this as an opportunity in your life. Often, after the dust clears, we realize that we are destined for more then what we once did. This time around, take the time to decide what you really want out of life, not what is expected of you. Opportunities and dreams come true to those who are open to it, believe in it and take action.

If there is something I missed, let me know. But lets always remember, we need to vent and let go of the anger and fear. But it cannot rule and dominate our lives. We must move forward in life. And that is my commitment to you, to help you move forward and find peace, happiness and meaning in life.

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