Many managers have experienced it at one time or another; an employee just didn’t work out or fit into the workplace culture. But even when it’s the employee’s fault – a history of tardiness, no-call or no-show behavior, or performance issues at work – it’s hard to let go of someone. It’s hard, even with the knowledge that it is best for the company and all the other staff in the long run. That’s because managers know that letting someone go will have a profound effect on that person’s life.
When an employee is terminated, their way of life will change. Their livelihood is affected. They may have financial issues, such as trouble paying rent, and may have to cut back. The termination may cause confidence and self-esteem issues and increase the stress in their lives.
In any case, a manager will likely feel guilt, and that’s normal. It just means that you’re a caring person – and there is nothing wrong with that. That guilt shouldn’t stop or prevent you from doing your job.
Reduce the Guilt, It’s Not Your Fault
Remember that the Employee was Given Chances to Improve
The staff member was warned repeatedly, perhaps formally written up (as per many company policies), and was given opportunities to improve and all the tools to do so. When no changes were made, the decision was made to let him or her go.
Remember that this is not your fault. It’s not a school, it’s a job, and people need to take personal responsibility for their actions. You’re not there to babysit. People are hired on competence, and if they can’t meet the job description after attempts to work with them to resolve and improve the situation, it’s your responsibility as a manager to ensure that someone who can do the job gets the position.
Remember the Team
As a manager, you not only need to look out for individual staff members, but for the team as a whole. For a team to be successful everyone needs to be pulling his or her weight, else it becomes unfairly balanced. Remind yourself that keeping this person on the team can do more harm than good in the long run. You have to think of everyone else as well.
You can Still do Something
Once the termination takes place, your professional relationship has been severed. But what if you personally want to help this person recover from being fired? If that’s what you want (and it’s OK with the company) then that’s your prerogative.
If your relationship with this person was good, and they were let go because they just weren’t a good fit for your particular workplace, you may want to recommend them for another job, write them a letter, or give some advice to aid in finding employment elsewhere.
In the end, you need to remind yourself that the employee was an adult who made their own choices. As long as you treated them fairly and honestly, that’s all you are responsible for as a manager.