The first time I fired someone it was very difficult. The person who worked for me was talented at her actual job but was a terrible employee, not submitting time reports, showing up late or not at all to meetings with no explanation, responding inappropriately to her colleagues, and disregarding specific requests by her supervisor. All of the incidents were documented but because I was a new manager I did not address them each time they happened, my employee was surprised when I told her she was on probation. Shortly thereafter I let her go and she was very vocal (to me, my staff, and our clients) that she had been treated unfairly. With the number of incidences of poor performance she should have been let go much, much earlier, but because I did not address the issues as they arose the number continued to grow and she believed it was acceptable. When I fired her she claimed it wasn’t fair. Truly, it wasn’t fair that I had kept her for so long.
I learned a great deal from this and the next time I fired someone he basically fired himself. This employee was also very talented at his actual job but was consistently late to client meetings or did not show up at all, without informing me or the client. This time around I not only documented each incident, I addressed it with him directly. I communicated what sort of behavior was unacceptable and specifically addressed the way it needed to change. He understood the standards of expected performance and the process in place that led to termination. At our final meeting he actually apologized to me for getting himself fired by his poor performance. It was a simple and easy process that left no hard conversations with staff or clients. I believe through my time as his manager he grew and left a better person then when he began with me.
Clearly, as a new manager I needed to learn how to hire better so as to not be in a position to have to fire employees for very basic principles of performance.